34 killed in Indonesia boat capsized


Passengers trapped for a night on a stricken ferry off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi were rescued early Wednesday, officials said, as the death toll rose to 31 with three people missing and believed drowned inside the vessel.

Waves as high as 13ft swamped the vessel, damaging the hull and causing the ferry to take on water and list.

Tuesday's sinking came a few weeks after an overcrowded ferry sank on Lake Toba, one of the world's deepest volcanic lakes, claiming more than 200 lives.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said at least 24 passengers, who fell into the sea when the ferry started to sink, drowned.

Relatives of missing passengers on July 2, 2018 at the location where the ferry sank in Lake Toba, North Sumatra, Indonesia on June 18, 2018.

Sondani says the captain steered the vessel toward shore after it began sinking on a voyage from the port of Bira to Selayar island, just south of the main Sulawesi island.

The boat was also carrying 48 vehicles.

The general director of maritime transport Agus Purnomo said in a statement that the actions of the captain helped the rescue tasks.

Officials said more than 190 people had been aboard.

Rescuers are still scouring the coastline for missing passengers.

The captain deliberately ran the boat aground close to shore in an effort to reduce drownings at sea, the transportation ministry said.

"We lost our two very dear children - both have left us", Soleh, who uses only one name, said after laying a stone in memory of his kids at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago made up of more than 17,000 islands, suffers frequent boat accidents, with basic safety rules often flouted and vessels overloaded.

Images from the scene Tuesday showed passengers in bright orange life vests clinging to the side of the KM Lestari Maju as it tilted sharply into the water not far from the coast of Bulukumba regency, near Selayar Island.