INDONESIA - Fishermen living around Sangeang Pulo Island, Bima regency, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) province, have informed police that the two remaining missing victims of Saturday's boat sinking are stranded on a beach.
However, poor weather and high tides on Monday afternoon prevented fishing boats from approaching the beach, said Bima Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Beny Basen on Tuesday.
"The weather is quite clear now, so the search efforts for the two missing people will be resumed by the National Search and Rescue Team [Basarnas] along with members of the Bima Disaster Mitigation Agency [BPPD], Indonesian Military [TNI] and National Police personnel," Beny told The Jakarta Post.
He revealed that the two foreign tourists had been assumed to be Spanish citizens, based on the identities of the tourists who had already been rescued.
"However, we do not yet know the identities of the two missing Spaniards," he added.
BPBD secretary Jarudin told the Post that the two missing people had not yet been found despite a search conducted from helicopters and boats.
Currently, the search team is scouring waters from Sape, Sangeang Pulo, Wera district, to as far as West Flores in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).
"The search has been expanded by 306 kilometers thanks to the clear weather. The search team is currently out at sea to search for the foreign tourists," said Jarudin.
Rescue workers from various organisations have resumed the search for the victims, whose fate remains unknown.
As of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, there was still no information on the two missing tourists. Jarudin's office remained unable to provide detailed information, as the joint search team was still searching the sea off Sangeang Pulo.
"There has been no more development in the search operation today. Yesterday, bad weather and rough seas hampered the search mission. The search team has not yet reported on today's obstacles," said Jarudin.
He added that Basarnas had not given a time limit for the search, and that the rescue team was still searching for the two missing people, aided by local fishermen from the area around Sangeang Pulo.
The ill-fated named Forcase, a traditional phinisi (schooner), was carrying 20 foreign tourists and five crew members when it reportedly sank off Sangeang Pulo on Saturday after hitting a reef.
The vessel was carrying the tourists from Labuhan Lombok, East Lombok regency, NTB, to Komodo Island, NTT.
Meanwhile, the condition of the remaining foreign tourists, as well as that of the Indonesian guides and crew members who survived the incident, has improved. However, they have not yet returned to their respective countries and homes.
The rescued foreign tourists are currently staying in a number of hotels in Bima while waiting for their two Spanish cotravelers to be found.
"All the survivors are in good condition and no longer being treated at the Bima regional hospital or community health clinics," Jarudin stated.