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26 dead after ferry sinks

world Updated: Nov 23, 2009 01:14 IST

Up to 26 people were killed and some 250 were plucked to safety after a ferry sank in heavy seas off Indonesia’s Sumatra island on Sunday, officials said.

The 147-tonne Dumai Express was sailing from Batam island to Pekanbaru when it went down in high seas off Karimun island, near Singapore in the north of the Indonesian archipelago, police said.

“The latest data (we have are) 250 people were rescued, including the ferry captain and 12 crew members. Twenty-six people have died. We don’t know how many are missing,” navy Lieutenant Colonel Edwin told AFP.

Karimun district chief Nurdin Basirun earlier said 21 people had died and 232 had been pulled alive from the stormy seas.

Officials said the death toll could rise as the number of people aboard the ferry when it went down around 10:00 am was unknown and many might have been trapped below decks.

Its capacity was 273 passengers and crew, but overcrowding is common on Indonesian ferries. “Strong waves hit the ferry and caused the front part to crack. Water got in and within half an hour it sank,” Edwin said.