Passenger Boat in Indonesia Capsizes, Killing at Least 15

JAKARTA, Indonesia — An overloaded passenger boat capsized off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi early Monday, killing at least 15 people and leaving 19 others missing, rescuers said.

The small wooden boat capsized just after midnight, said Muhammad Arafah, a local official with a search and rescue agency. He said it had been bringing people from one village to another in Buton Central, a regency, or administrative district, in southeastern Sulawesi.

Rescuers were searching Monday for 19 people still missing in rough seas, Mr. Arafah said. He said six people had been rescued and 15 bodies recovered.

Thousands of people in Buton Central had gone to their villages for a local celebration on Sunday, many of them traveling by fishing or passenger boats.

Television news showed footage of people on fishing boats retrieving bodies in the overnight darkness, and grieving relatives waiting for information at a port and at a local hospital.

Ferries are a common form of transportation in Indonesia, an archipelago with more than 17,000 islands. With safety standards generally lax and overcrowding common, accidents occur frequently.

In 2018, an overcrowded ferry with about 200 people on board sank in a lake in North Sumatra Province, killing 167 people.

In one of Indonesia’s worst recorded disasters, an overcrowded passenger ship sank in February 1999 with 332 people aboard. Only 20 people survived.

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