Fri, 03 Dec 1999

At least three die as ferry sinks

PEKANBARU, Riau: The Dumai Express VI ferry carrying 200 passengers caught fire and sank in the Malaka Straits on Thursday morning killing at least three people.

Antara reported that search crews had so far found three bodies while more than 100 others were still missing.

The Bengkalis Police Chief Capt. Asman Yunir said survivors were brought to the Bengkalis local hospital.

The ferry, plying the Dumai-Bengkalis-Batam route caught fire only half an hour after it left Bengkalis port.

Witnesses said the fire proceeded a loud blast. The ferry sank a few hours latter.

Some of the passengers were saved by the Dumai Express V, which was sailing near to the unfortunate ferry.

However, the Dumai Express V, due to limited capacity, could only pick up a limited number of survivors.

Passengers who survived the incident said they saw many others trapped inside the sinking ferry.

Officials have yet to determined the cause of the fire. (04)