At least five people have died after a boat carrying nearly 200 people caught fire in Indonesia, rescuers said Saturday. The national disaster management agency said the vessel caught fire on Friday afternoon in the waters off the archipelago's main Java island, prompting the captain to order people to abandon the boat.
Mochammad Arifin, the local chief of the search and rescue agency, said rescuers have evacuated 141 people and recovered five bodies in the incident. He said the authorities were checking the manifest to determine whether anyone else was missing.
According to the agency, the fire might have been caused by a short circuit in one of the trucks carried on board.
The Indonesian archipelago, which constitutes more than 17,000 islands, is hugely dependent on boat transport. However, due to poor safety standards boat accidents are quite frequent in the country. There are often complaints regarding overloaded vessels and having too few life jackets on boats.
In January, nearly 23 Indonesian tourists were killed after a passenger boat ferrying around 200 people from the capital Jakarta to nearby Tidung Island caught fire. In November 2016, an overcrowded speedboat carrying three crew and 98 passengers struck a reef and sunk on its way from Malaysia to Batam in Indonesia killing 54 people on board.