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Jakarta Post

Passenger overload suspected to be contributing factor in Zahro disaster

  • Winda A.Charmila and Safrin La Batu

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, January 1, 2017   /  07:46 pm
Passenger overload suspected to be contributing factor in Zahro disaster Rescue workers evacuate the bodies of a burnt ferry which killed at least 23 people, and 17 are still missing after the boat exploded on January 1. (Antara/M Agung Rajasa)

The ferry from Kali Adem Port in Penjaringan that exploded on its way to Tidung Island in North Jakarta on Sunday morning might have been carrying passengers beyond its capacity as the rescue team tasked with sorting through the wreckage has found more bodies than expected.

The team collected 20 bodies from the ruins of the Zahro Express after it was towed back to Muara Angke pier. The boat, which was initially reported to be carrying 100 passengers, might have in fact accommodated more than 200 passengers. Hendra Sudirman, the acting chief of Jakarta Search and Rescue Agency, said the team could not verify the exact number of passengers who were on the boat at the time of the accident.

“At first, it was reported to be 100 passengers, then it was changed to 240. Later, we took out 20 bodies [from the wreckage of the boat],” he said as quoted by Antara news agency.

(Read also: Ferry bound for Tidung Island explodes, killing 23)

The Zahro Express exploded after a fire caused by a short circuit in its engine room is thought to have reached the fuel container. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said at least 23 people were killed in the explosion while another 17 are still missing.

Two bodies were found when a relief boat reached the ill-fated ferry earlier in the day. Thousand Islands regency officials said the ferry departed from Kali Adem Port at 8:50 a.m. and the incident occurred at 9:24 a.m. The ferry is thought to have caught fire roughly 1.6 kilometers west of Muara Angke.

As many as 194 passengers survived, while seventeen were injured and are being treated at the Atmajaya Hospital. The ship was found to be heavily damaged and burned up when it docked at Muara Angke.

Of the 23 passengers who have passed away, three have been identified as: Jaksen Wilhelmus, Masduki and Alia. Jaksen was from Bogor in West Java. Masduki was from Cirebon in West Java. Alia's origin has not yet been identified. Authorities are currently searching for passengers who are still missing.

The National Transportation Safety Commission (KNKT) recorded a surge in the number of marine accidents throughout the year due to extreme weather and human error. KNKT marine accident investigation head Aldrin Dalimunte told The Jakarta Post on Sunday that the number of accidents increased from 15 in 2015 to 28 in 2016.

“There are many factors, such as weather, human error and the poor condition of the ships,” he said.

Aldrin said that human error sometimes caused accidents at sea more often than substandard ships because people still had a low level of awareness surrounding issues related to safety. Aldrin noted that sometimes a ship had obtained a certificate proving that its machinery was in good condition.

However, the sailors operating the ship were not trained or motivated to maintain the good condition of the ship, and that led to accidents later on.

“No matter how the government tries to ensure that everything is well-checked, if people still lack the awareness or motivation to improve their safety, it will be difficult,” he said. (wit)

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