Jakarta – Authorities in East Nusa Tenggara have halted the search for 17 missing passengers from a boat that caught fire while at sea last week, believing the probability of their survival to be low, a local rescue official said on Wednesday.
Twenty people had been found dead during the search operation, which began after a passenger boat caught fire on waters near Timor Island on Oct. 24, the head of the local rescue team, I Putu Sudayana, told Reuters.
The manifest for the trip showed there had been 177 people aboard, but the rescue team said the actual number of passengers was 359, of whom 322 had been saved.
"After searching for ten days, we did an evaluation involving the police, military, and family, (and) we agreed to terminate the search," Putu told Reuters.
The National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) is investigating the cause of fire.