Indonesia: 6 killed as wooden fishing boat illegally carrying people sinks

The authorities say 20 people were found alive by the rescue teams.

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Rescue workers stand on the partially salvaged ferry after it capsized Reuters (Representational Image)

At least six people died and three are still missing after a wooden fishing boat capsized in eastern Indonesia, an official said on Saturday. The rescue operation is still ongoing for the missing passengers.

The accident took place on Friday afternoon while the boat was carrying 29 people from Takalar Lama river to Tanah Keke island in the province of South Sulawesi. The authorities said 20 people were found alive.

Lollan Panjaitan, the transport ministry spokesman, said the cause of the accident is still unknown. He said the boat did not have a legal permit to make the trip. "Since the wooden fishing boat departed from an unofficial location, not from an official harbour, we don't have much control over it," Panjaitan told AFP.

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 boat.

Last month, nearly 20 people 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.