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Investigation into capsized Indonesian ferry: 245 passengers still missing

Jakarta: The Indonesian government is to launch an investigation into the sinking of the ferry, Teratai Prima, which sank yesterday with 250 passengers and 17 crew members onboard. At last count, 22 survivors have been rescued, including the captain of the vessel, and there have been six deaths linked to the incident.

The vessel, which was enroute from Pare-Pare to Samarinda at the time of the incident, is said to have run into bad weather conditions - which continue to plague the rescue operations. An initial investigation has determined that the ferry was bombarded with waves causing it to capsize. Officials claim that the vessel was not carrying more passengers than permitted.

"We will investigate thoroughly why the captain decided to go," Reuters reports Transport Minister Jusman Syafi'i Djamal as saying. He added that there had been warnings about bad weather but that conditions at the port before departure appeared clear.

The incident is reminiscent of the sinking of the 23,000 tonne Philippine inter-island ferry, Princess of the Stars, which capsized during a typhoon off the central island of Sibuyan carrying 850 passengers and crew. Only 57 passengers and crew survived the accident.  [12/01/09]

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