2 foreign tourists still missing in boat sinking

2 foreign tourists still missing in boat sinking

A search is continuing for two foreign tourists who went missing after the boat they were traveling in sank off Sangeang Pulo Island, Wera district, Bima regency, West Nusa Tenggara on Saturday.

Jarudin, secretary of the Bima Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) in West Nusa Tenggara, said his office had yet to issue the identity of either tourist.

"I couldn't issue the identities of the foreign tourists who remain missing because we have not yet received their names. We don't want to give wrong information. The search team is scouring waters off Sangeang Pulo Island, Flores Island and Sulawesi," he said.

According to Jarudin, the joint search and rescue (SAR) team, consisting of members from the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), the Indonesian Military (TNI), the police and local fishermen, would continue the search mission for the foreign nationals. The search, he said, also involved helicopters.

The ill-fated boat, which was carrying 25 passengers heading to the Komodo National Park, was believed to have sunk after hitting rocks on Saturday. According to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), some fishermen managed to rescue 10 foreign tourists as of Sunday.

They were Gaylene from New Zealand, Rafael Matienes, 31, and Maria Palonfont, 33, from Spain, Bertrand Homassel, 33, from France, Catrine Ane, 21, from New Zealand, Alice Elisabeth, 19, from England, Eli Visser, 29, and Cayleng Cheryl, 53, from the Netherlands, Hannah S., 21, and Nonen Sokhon, 21, from Germany.

The BNPB reported that local fishermen were able to pluck to safety 13 foreign tourists, boat crew members and guides on Sunday at around 11 p.m. local time.

The survivors comprised eight foreign tourists, the boat's skipper, two crewmembers and two guides.

The foreign tourists were Yatman Ammen, Trobert and Maria Fiona from the Netherlands, A. Princess from Spain, Fabio and Oriona from Italy, Lisa and Dio Carolina from Germany.

The locals comprised M. Nujun, the captain of the vessel, Sali and Roni, boat crewmembers, as well as tour guides Wahyu and Yan.

The tempo.co news portal reported that one of the tourists, Dio Carolina, was critically injured and was undergoing treatment at the city-owned Bima Hospital, while 12 other survivors, including the boat crewmembers, were currently getting treatment at a community health centre (Puskesmas) in Sape district.

The ill-fated vessel, named Versace, was a 40-passenger tourist vessel. It was carrying 25 passengers when it sank on Saturday while transporting the tourists to go diving around Sangeang Api. The vessel reportedly hit rocks and then sprang a leak and sank.

Agence France-Presse reported that the 13 survivors who were evacuated on Monday appeared in shock and declined to speak with journalists.

French survivor Homassel told AFP Sunday how he and a group of others had to swim for six hours to reach Sangeang as the vessel slowly foundered, as only a small number could fit in the single lifeboat on board.

He said the boat started sinking after being hit on Friday night by a storm, which damaged the hull.

"Six people were in the lifeboat. The others climbed onto the roof of the boat, which had not completely sunk," he said, as quoted by AFP, speaking from a hotel in Bima, a city on Sumbawa where those rescued on Sunday were taken.

"We waited until 12 p.m. on Saturday. We were 5 kilometers from the coast - there were many big waves separating us from the coast.

"People started to panic. Everyone took the decision to swim to the closest island 5 kilometers away, where there was an erupting volcano."

He said they arrived on Sangeang as the sun was setting, but found the island deserted. They spent Saturday night there, surviving by drinking their own urine and eating leaves.

On Sunday, they attracted the attention of a passing boat by waving their life jackets and were rescued and taken to Bima, he said.

"I was really very lucky," Homassel added.

Indonesia relies heavily on boats to connect its more than 17,000 islands, but has a poor maritime safety record.

This was not the first accident involving a vessel that carried foreign tourists in West Nusa Tenggara waters.

In 2009, the Lian Senggigi, a boat plying the route from Serangan Island in Bali to Gili Trawangan in West Nusa Tenggara, sank with 40 tourists on board, most of them foreign nationals.

There were no casualties in the incident because the crew was quick to deploy two life rafts, a maritime police officer said.

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