Indonesian speedboat capsizes, killing at least 18

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A speedboat carrying Indonesian workers from Malaysia capsized in stormy weather, killing at least 18 people, police said.

The boat reportedly crashed into a reef after being struck by large waves and a strong wind, and sank around dawn (local time), the Indonesian National Disaster Agency said.

Around 100 people were on board the capsized boat off the Indonesian island of Batam, the island’s police chief Sambudi Gusdian said.

The body of a child under five was among those taken to a local hospital, he said, adding that researchers had rescued 39 people.

As night fell, relief authorities said the search for more than 40 people still missing would resume in daylight on Thursday (local time).

Police suspect the trip was illegal and the workers were undocumented due to the high fares passengers said they paid.

Mr Gusdian said an Indonesian woman suspected of being responsible for the trip was arrested as she tried to leave Batam for the nearby city of Singapore.

Haryanto, a 51-year-old survivor, said the boat capsized in heavy rain and high waves about two hours after leaving Johor Bahru in Malaysia.

He also said the boat was overcrowded.

Speedboats and ferries are a common form of transportation in Indonesia, and shipwrecks are common due to poorly enforced safety regulations.

One of the worst ferry disasters in recent years occurred off the island of Sulawesi in 2009, killing more than 330 people.

AP / Reuters


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