Jakarta – Emergency services have said they were alerted only three days after a fishing boat carrying 37 people sank on Tuesday off Matasiri Island in Kotabaru regency, South Kalimantan, primarily because it appeared that the vessel did not send a distress signal.
The National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) said it had received the report on the Pisces fishing boat on Friday, when it immediately dispatched rescue teams to look for survivors.
The agency's records show that two survivors had been rescued and four bodies had been recovered. Basarnas is still looking for the 31 other people onboard who are listed as missing.
The captain, 31 crew members and five apprentice students – all residents of Pekalongan, Central Java – were aboard the vessel when it sank en route from Pekalongan to the Makassar Strait between the islands of Kalimantan and Sulawesi.
Basarnas said that the boat's onboard radio transmitter may have been broken, as the agency had not received a distress call.
"Basarnas has a device [...] to receive distress calls from boats. Basarnas didn't receive any such call [from the Pisces]. The guess is that the boat's [transmitter] was broken," Endrow of the Basarnas Banjarmasin office in South Kalimantan told kompas.comon Friday.
Endrow said that a passing boat had discovered the four fatal victims and two survivors and transported them to Kotabaru regency, the closest point on land from where the boat sank.
He said Basarnas was coordinating with the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the Banjarmasin Port Authority, and had sent four vessels and a aircraft to search for the missing crew and passengers.
"We have transported the six victims to Pekalongan," he added. (ars)