Indonesia: 5 dead, 17 injured after boat catches fire in Jakarta river
Representational Image Reuters

At least 23 people were killed and 17 others were injured after a boat, carrying hundreds of local tourists, caught fire along Angke river, North Jakarta on Sunday.

Ferry Budiharso, a spokesman for the Thousand Island police, said the fire fighters were informed about the incident at around 8.45 am. The boat, Zahro Express was en route to Tidung Island but shortly after it left the Muara Angke port in North Jakarta, the boat caught fire. The national disaster agency said the passengers panicked and jumped into the sea as flames and smoke rapidly engulfed the boat.

"The boat's manifest says there are around 100 people on board, but obviously that's wrong, so we are still searching," Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, national disaster agency spokesman told AFP.

According to Budiharso, the accident was caused due to a short circuit on a power generator on the boat. The Transport Ministry confirmed that the blaze started with an explosion in the engine room.

"Fifteen minutes after the boat set sail, people at the back of the boat started making noise," Evi, a female passenger, who gave only one name, told local station Metro TV.

"Then I saw smoke, there was more and more, the boat was crowded and people were fighting for life jackets," she added.

The head of Jakarta's search and rescue agency, Hendra Sudirman, told Reuters that 194 people had been rescued. The fishermen rescued many of the passengers, all of whom were believed to be Indonesians, to safety and firefighting boats were deployed to put out the blaze.

Boat accidents are quite frequent in Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago. There are often compalins regarding overloaded vessels and having too few life jackets on boat.