Rescuers search for 94 victims of Indonesian ferry disaster

Number of passengers missing expected to rise as information from relatives compiled

Rescuers searching for dozens of people missing after a ferry sank in Indonesia’s Lake Toba have found bags, jackets, an ID card and other items in the waters but no new survivors.

The disaster has cast a tragic pall over holidays marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Police said 18 people were rescued and one body was recovered. Officials released the names of 94 people confirmed as missing but said the figure is expected to rise as information from relatives is compiled.

Mobile phone video released by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency shows the crew of another ferry attempting to rescue people struggling in the waters shortly after the sinking but being hampered by bad weather and rough waters.


Distraught relatives gathered at major ferry docks on the lake, hoping for news of missing family members.

Budiawan, the head of the search and rescue agency in the nearby city of Medan, said the overcrowded KM Sinar Bangun was filled with about 150 people and 55 motorbikes.

Officials are relying on reports from the families of victims and survivors to estimate the number of victims. Budiawan said the vessel did not have a passenger manifest.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the boat sank at about 5.30pm on Monday as it sailed from the mainland to an island.

A survivor identified by Indonesian television as Juwita Sumbayak said the vessel was rocked by high waves and was hit a by a wooden boat before suddenly sinking.

“I was desperate. I was scared to death. I’m afraid my family is dead,” she said, weeping.

The 440-sq mile Lake Toba, formed out of an ancient super volcano, is a popular sightseeing destination on the island of Sumatra.

Tens of millions of Indonesians return to their home towns and take holidays at the end of Ramadan.

The police statement said the search had found several bags including one containing a mobile phone and ID, jackets and other items of clothing as well as traces of oil and a blue bucket and fuel cans suspected to be from the sunken ferry.

It said bad weather continues to hamper the search of a lake with depths of more than 396 metres (1,300ft).

Officials said more than half a dozen vessels and 350 people including search and rescue personnel, police, soldiers and fishermen are involved in the search.