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23 dead in Indonesia boat accident: official

02nd January 2017, 12:00 Hrs

At least 23 people have been killed and 17 are missing after a passenger boat caught fire on Sunday near Jakarta, according to officials. The boat was ferrying around 200 people from Jakarta to Tidung island – a tourist destination 50 kilometres from the capital – this morning when the fire broke out, according to the national disaster agency.

“194 people have been rescued. The boat’s manifest says there are around 100 people on board, but obviously that’s wrong, so we are still searching,” disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told AFP. A rescue team has been deployed to search for the missing passengers.

The Indonesian archipelago of more than 17,000 islands is heavily dependent on boat transport, but safety standards are lax and fatal accidents common.

At least 54 people died in November when an overcrowded speedboat carrying three crew and 98 passengers – mostly Indonesian migrant workers – struck a reef and sunk on its way from Malaysia to Batam.