Pekanbaru, Indonesia: A speedboat carrying 74 people capsized in rough seas in western Indonesia, killing at least 11 and leaving one person missing, officials said Friday.
Many of the dead were women and children, said Nyoman Sidakarya, chief of the Pekanbaru Search and Rescue Agency. He said 62 people had been rescued, including some who were unconscious after drifting in the choppy waters for hours. They were hospitalized and were in stable condition, he said.
The Evelyn Calista 01 was carrying 68 passengers, mostly people returning from visits to their hometowns to celebrate the Eid Al Fitr holiday with their families, and six crew members, Sidakarya said. He revised the number of people on board from an initial estimate of 78.
Television video showed people standing on an overturned boat trying to reach a fishing boat packed with survivors.
The boat sank Thursday afternoon about three hours after leaving Tembilahan, a town in Indragiri Hilir Regency in Riau province. It was bound for Tanjung Pinang in the Riau Islands chain, a 200-kilometer (125-mile) trip.
The cause of the sinking was still being investigated, but some survivors told authorities that the boat swayed suddenly and capsized after hitting a large log while traveling in strong winds, local police chief Norhayat said.
Two tugboats and two inflatable boats battled high waves in the overnight darkness as they searched for survivors, said Norhayat, who uses a single name. He said a tugboat pulled the capsized boat to shore to ease the search efforts.
Boat tragedies are common in Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, where ferries are often used as transport and safety regulations are sometimes ignored.
In 2018, an overcrowded ferry carrying about 200 people sank in a deep volcanic crater lake in North Sumatra province, killing 167 people.
In one of the country’s worst recorded disasters, an overcrowded passenger ship sank in February 1999 with 332 people aboard. There were only 20 survivors.