Tourist boat sinks in Indonesia

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 17 Agustus 2014 | 20.01

Ten tourists and five Indonesians are missing after a boat capsized sailing between Indonesian islands.

TEN foreign tourists and five Indonesians are missing after a boat travelling between islands in eastern Indonesia sank, a search and rescue official has confirmed.

Australian officials are urgently seeking to confirm whether any citizens are among the missing after a tourist boat sank in eastern Indonesia.

"A tourist boat with 25 people on board capsized while sailing from Lombok island to Komodo island," said Budiawan, who, like many Indonesians, goes by one name.

"We rescued 10 foreigners, while 10 other foreigners and five Indonesians remain missing. We launched a search operation as soon as we received the report this morning (Sunday)."

"The incident took place ... when the boat hit a reef and sank. Fishermen managed to rescue five of them alive later at night on Saturday, and five other foreigners were rescued by a sailing boat," Budiawan told AFP.

Those rescued were from New Zealand, Britain, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and France, the official added.

Budiawan could not provide the nationalities of those still missing.

A DFAT spokesperson said the Australian Embassy in Jakarta and the Australian Consulate-General in Bali were urgently seeking details from local authorities to learn whether any Australians were on board.

"Any Australians who have concerns for the welfare of family or friends in the region should attempt to directly contact them," the spokesperson said.

The accident occurred near Bima, a town on Sumbawa Island, he said.

Disaster...the tourist boat with 25 on board hit a reef and capsized near Bima, Indonesia. Source: Supplied

According to one media report, the boat, Versace Amara, was blown onto the reef by strong winds after its engine failed early on Saturday morning (local time).

The boat then capsized, eventually sinking at about 7pm on Saturday (local time).

Some passengers clung to its side and others clambered onto the boat.

According to media reports, some passengers were swept away and spent about 10 hours in the water before being rescued by another tourist boat.

This vessel is said to have rescued five tourists, while the other five were saved by local fishermen.

It is not known if the remaining 10 tourists and five Indonesian crew members were able to get into another vessel.

A search and rescue exercise by the Indonesian agency, Basarnas, has so far been unsuccessful.

According to other media reports, Tajudin Sam, who ran the tour company operating the boat, said it likely encountered stormy weather.

Surfing charters are popular in the area where the boat sank, with many operating from Lombok and along reefs found near the islands.

The charters typically are for several days aboard boats which carry up to 25 passengers, plus crew.

The boats travel to surf breaks, such as Nusa, where surfers are dropped near the breaks before being collected.

They usually eat and sleep aboard the boats as they travel between the islands and the surfing locations.

The boat was making its way to Komodo Island, internationally famous for its Komodo dragons.

Indonesia relies heavily on boats to connect its more than 17,000 islands, but has a poor maritime safety record.

Two vessels sank last month in different parts of the archipelago as millions travelled for the Muslim Eid holiday, leaving at least 36 people dead.

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