Suspected to have been operating at overcapacity, a boat carrying 25 passengers capsized in the Bengawan Solo River on the border of Babat district, Lamongan regency and Widang district, Tuban regency, on Friday.
East Java Police spokesperson Sr.Comr.Argo Yuwono said all passengers on board were male students of Langitan Islamic boarding school in Tuban, East Java.
Only 18 students were reported to have survived the incident, while seven others remain missing.
Argo said several of the students wanted to go grocery shopping at the Babat Market in Lamongan. “According to witnesses, the river current was quite strong, creating instability for the boat,” he told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Argo said the boat capsized when the students panicked as water started flowing into the boat, after which they jumped into the river.
Tuban Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Joko Mudiono said three joint rescue teams had been dispatched to search for the seven missing passengers.
Traditional boats used to cross the Bengawan Solo River are prone to accidents. In May 2011, a boat carrying 40 passengers capsized and sank. In 2010, a boat carrying 10 passengers and six motorcycles capsized. No concrete measures have been taken by local authorities to prevent the use of the traditional transportation, which lacks safety. (ebf)
Unsafe – Police personnel secure a boat used by 25 students of the Langitan Islamic boarding school in Tuban, East Java, to travel to Lamongan. The boat capsized due to a strong current and heavy load. (Courtesy of Bakesbangpol Lamongan/File)