Twenty-three dead after ferry catches fire near Indonesian capital

Rescuers search for victims from the wreckage of the ferry that caught fire off the coast of Jakarta after it was docked at Muara Angke Port. Picture by Rhana Ananda, Associated Press
Ali Kotarumalos, Associated Press

AT least 23 people have been killed and 17 others are missing after a ferry caught fire off the coast of Indonesia's capital, officials said.

The vessel was carrying more than 230 people from Jakarta's port of Muara Angke to Tidung, a resort island in the Kepulauan Seribu chain, when it caught fire, officials said.

Seply Madreto, an official with the local Disaster Mitigation Agency, said the fire gutted about half of the ship. He added that about 22 injured people were taken to hospital.

A search involving around 10 ships was launched to find those still missing, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said in a statement.

Witnesses told MetroTV that the fire broke out about 15 minutes after the ship left Muara Angke.

The cause of the fire is not yet clear. Some passengers told local media they first saw smoke coming from the ferry's engine.

TV footage showed people in the water with the ferry in flames in the background.

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

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