Sat, 28 Jun 2003

Man dead, toddler missing as ship sinks

Kasparman Piliang and Andi Hajramurni, The Jakarta Post, Padang/Makassar

A man died and a young child is missing after tidal waves sank a cargo ship transporting them in waters near Pisang Island off the West Sumatra capital of Padang on Thursday.

The accident took place at around 4:15 p.m. just 15 minutes after the KM Putri left Muaro port in Padang. The ship was transporting 480 sacks of cement, 20 drums of cooking oil and sugar to Tua Pejat in the Mentawai islands regency. The commodities weighed 25 tons.

Padang Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Ngadino said on Friday ship owner Mawar, 35, was found dead near the shore of Pisang Island, some five nautical miles from Muaro port. Ngadino said the search was underway for a two-and-a-half-year-old boy Viski Minaldo.

Four crew members and a passenger, Hilmawati, Viski's mother, survived. They floated in the sea for a couple of hours before a group of fishermen rescued them. Separately, fishermen also rescued the ship's captain Armadoni, 30, and another crew member Marcus, 18, who were swimming toward shore.

News of the accident surfaced two hours after the vessel capsized, when the survivors reached the port.

Armadoni said Hilmawati had asked him to take care of her boy before she abandoned the sinking ship using a life buoy. But the captain said he lost sight of the boy when he was struggling to survive in the high waves.

The accident came six hours after a fishing-turned-passenger boat sunk in the Makassar Strait in South Sulawesi, killing six of its passengers. As of Friday the rescue team had yet to find Saleha, 17, the only passenger still missing,

Armadoni had delayed the vessel's departure on Wednesday due to rough seas. The day after they decided to embark on their trip despite heavy downpour.

In Makassar, police questioned on Friday the owner of boat Sinar Jaya 03, Bara, and the operator of the boat, Rahim, as witnesses.

Makassar Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Sambudi Gusdian said the two Kodingareng Island residents denied allegations that the boat was overloaded as it usually carried up to 70 people. The boat had 30 people on board when it sank on Thursday morning.