Article published on the 2009-01-19 Latest update 2009-01-19 10:44 TU
People waiting for news of their missing relatives after the Teratai Prima sunk off Sulawesi island.
The captain of the Teratai Prima ferry that sunk off Indonesia’s Sulawesi island faces charges of negligence after the disaster last week. Nine bodies have been found, and another 326 could be dead. Sabir, the captain of the 700 tonne ferry operated by PT Bunga Teratai, faces up to five years in prison on charges filed by the South Sulawesi police.
The ferry was travelling from Pare-pare, on the west coast of Sulawesi, to Samarinda city on Indonesia’s side of Borneo island, when it encountered stormy conditions.
Police spokespeople said that Sabir was being charged with negligence after failing to adhere to a storm warning. It is also thought that the ferry was heavily overloaded with more than 100 extra passengers on board.
Thirty-five people survived, but only nine bodies have been recovered so far. Up to 370 people were on board.
Survivors from the disaster, who were mainly found by fishing boats clinging to flotsam, said that most on-board were asleep at the time, and that the speed at which it sunk gave them little chance of escape.
The National Transport Safety Committee said it was going to investigate whether overloading could have contributed to the disaster, while the search and rescue operation is set to continue until Tuesday.
The accident is the worst incident in Indonesia since December 2006, when a ferry sank off the coast of Java, killing more than 500 people.