Fierce blaze engulfs Indonesian ferry with 195 people on board

Fire broke out 15 minutes after the vessel had set sail

A ferry with almost 200 people on board caught fire while sailing to a remote island in north-eastern Indonesia, forcing passengers and crew to jump into the sea but causing no casualties, officials said.

The KM Karya Indah was in the Molucca Sea heading for Sanana, a port on the island of Lifamatola, when the fire broke out at about 7am, said Wisnu Wardana, a representative for the sea transportation directorate general.

The blaze began 15 minutes after the vessel had departed Ternate, the provincial capital of North Maluku province.

Phone video of the incident provided by the National Search and Rescue Agency showed passengers and crew clinging to floating objects as they struggled in the choppy water, while the raging fire on the ferry sent up clouds of black smoke.

All 181 passengers, including 22 children and 14 crew members, were rescued and taken to a nearby island. The agency’s rescue operation was aided by fishing boats in the vicinity, Mr Wardana said.

He said authorities were investigating the cause of the incident. Passengers said it started in the engine room.

Ferry accidents are common in Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation with more than 17,000 islands. Many accidents are blamed on the lax regulation of boat services.

Updated: May 30, 2021 12:33 PM

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