Indonesian ferry Senopati
JAKARTA - Survivors of an
Indonesian ferry disaster Saturday described how panic
spread among the hundreds of passengers as the ship
rocked violently in stormy conditions before sinking.
More than 500 people were missing after the "Senopati
Nusantara" (Archipelago Commander) sank in a storm off
the coast of Java, where search and rescue efforts
were called off due to rough seas.
Some 59 people have been rescued so far, and most were
being treated in hospital in Rembang, northeast of
Semarang, the ferry's destination.
One of the survivors said the ship started to feel
unstable in the rough seas on Friday afternoon,
several hours before it sank.
"It started at about 2:00 pm on Friday and I could see
that the ship was clearly not stable. Many of the
passengers were already panicking and feeling edgy,"
Irfan Setiawan told MetroTV.
A fellow survivor described the nightmare conditions
shortly before the ship went down Friday night.
"It was late at night and the ship was rocking and
swaying and it looked as if the ship would capsize and
it kept getting worse through the night," Holit told
"Finally, at about 11:00 pm people were really
panicking as we could feel the ship rocking violently.
People were then asked to put on their life jackets
and hang on to some floats," he said.
"I was looking for my daughter but it was just too
dark, and suddenly it was as if the ship had snapped
and broke, but I could not tell what happened exactly,"
Setiawan said it was "as if the ship had lost its
balance and overturned".
Passengers were then thrown into the sea and spent
hours floating in their life jackets or on life rafts
in the stormy waters, before being rescued by passing
fishermen or navy ships.
"We were all suddenly thrown into the water and
floating on the sea and I had lost my daughter," Holit
"I hung on to a float and at 6:00 am the next day a
fisherman's boat spotted us after hearing our cries
for help. There were 19 of us stranded out there and
praying that we would be saved," he said.
"We were all rescued and brought to the Rembang
hospital for treatment."
Holit's 18-year-old daughter, Lailatul Badriah, was
not among those rescued so far.
"I survived by holding onto a float on the ship and
the water washed me away from the wreck towards the
open sea," Setiawan said.
"There were many passengers scrambling to save
themselves ... there were more than 30 of them there
at that time."
Marine transport official Suharto said the ship
appeared to have capsized.
"Based on the latest information we have, we know that
it did not break -- maybe it cracked and capsized, but
we are still investigating," Suharto told ElShinta.
"We have also informed nearby ships to look out for
any victims and offer help."
Semarang port official Slamet Rahardjo said there were
545 passengers and 57 crew on board when it sank.
- AFP /ls