Indonesian police: At least 20 dead in boat capsizing

Indonesian police: At least 20 dead in boat capsizing
Posted at 2:42 AM, Nov 02, 2016

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A speedboat carrying Indonesian workers home from Malaysia capsized in stormy weather on Wednesday, and police said at least 20 people were killed.

About 90 people were on the boat, which capsized off the Indonesian island of Batam at about 5 a.m., said the island's police chief, Sambudi Gusdian. He said searchers had rescued 39 people, and a child under the age of 5 was among the bodies taken to a local hospital.

Police suspect the trip was illegal and the workers were undocumented because of the high fares that passengers said they paid.

Gusdian said an Indonesian woman believed to be responsible for the voyage was arrested as she tried to leave Batam for nearby Singapore.

Haryanto, a 51-year-old survivor, said the boat capsized in heavy rain and high waves about two hours after it left Johor Bahru in Malaysia. He also said the boat was overcrowded.

"It was so crowded, some of us could not sit," said Haryanto, who was saved by fishermen after swimming for about two hours. Like many Indonesians, he goes by one name.

A police helicopter and more than a dozen boats were involved in the rescue effort.

Speedboats and ferries are a common form of transport in Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago. Sinkings are common due to poorly enforced safety regulations.

One of the worst ferry sinkings in recent years occurred off Sulawesi island in 2009, killing more than 330 people.