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Nine killed in Indonesia ferry fire

world Updated: Sep 27, 2008 16:13 IST

Nine people were killed and over 60 evacuated from a ferry that caught fire at sea in Indonesia's remote Maluku province, reports said on Saturday.

Four children and one teenager were among those killed when the ferry caught fire Friday within sight of land, the state Antara news agency said.

Villagers from a nearby hamlet rushed to sea in fishing boats to help bring passengers from the stricken ferry.

The 63 survivors were brought to the provincial capital of Ambon, the police commander at the port, Dedi Siregar, told AFP by telephone.

The fire appeared to have started in the ship's engine room, Siregar said.

"(However) We don't know for sure how it happened because the whole ship was burnt and sank," he said.

"The likelihood is that the ship was transporting more people than its capacity could allow," Ambon search and rescue head Eddy Paays was quoted as saying by Antara.

Indonesia, an archipelago nation of roughly 17,000 islands, is heavily reliant on an ageing fleet of ferries for transport.