113 saved, 47 missing after ferry sinks

Navy ships picked up 113 survivors after a passenger ferry sank today in heavy seas in eastern Indonesia, but rescuers were still searching for at least 47 people believed to have been on board, officials said.

A navy spokesman in Jakarta said that according to the ship’s manifest 82 people were on the ship when it went down. But at a port official said that more than 160 were aboard the Citra Mandala Bahari when it left Kupang harbour.

“So far, 113 people have been rescued alive,” said Kupang port official Sinta, who uses only one name. ”Rescuers are still searching for at least another 47 people.”

At least three naval ships were still searching for survivors in the area, said naval spokesman Rear Adm. Yusuf Malik.

The survivors apparently had time to put on lifejackets and board life rafts before the went down, other officials said.

The ferry contacted Kupang port around two hours after leaving land to say it was turning back because of bad weather, he said.

“The report said waves were up to 10 feet high,” he said.

Accidents at sea are common in Indonesia, a vast archipelago where boat travel is often the only way to reach many islands. Ships regularly carry more passengers than are on their manifests.

The ferry was travelling from Kupang port on the western side of Timor island to Rote Island, a trip that normally takes around four hours.

The region is around 1,250 miles east of Jakarta.

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