Thursday, July 12, 2007

Passenger Ship Disappears

Rescuers scoured Indonesian waters after a ship carrying 60 people capsized in stormy weather, killing at least two children and leaving dozens missing, a port official said Thursday. Twenty-nine people wearing life vests were plucked from the sea by a passing oil tanker, but officials were losing hope of finding more survivors, said Karim Tuanaya, acting head of the local Port Authority. The KM Wahai Star was on a regular voyage from Buru island to Ambon, the capital of Maluku province, when its engine broke down after encountering 18-foot-high waves just before midnight Tuesday, he said.The vessel was carrying 43 passengers and 17 crew, according to survivors who helped hand out life vests minutes before the ship capsized. ``The waves were crashing overboard and passengers were panicking,'' Tuanaya said, adding that an oil tanker plucked the bodies of two children from the sea and aided in rescue operations. A search for the 29 people still missing was under way, but rain and huge waves were hampering those efforts, he said. Indonesia, the world's largest archipelagic nation, has been hit by a series of sea transportation disasters in recent months. In late December, a passenger ferry sank in a storm in the Java Sea, killing more than 400 people.

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