Telly Nathalia, Jakarta – Passenger ship KM Santika Nusantara caught fire in waters off Masalembu Islands en route from Surabaya in East Java to Balikpapan in East Kalimantan on Thursday night, killing three people. National Search and Rescue Agency, or Basarnas, said on Saturday 293 survivors have so far been rescued from the ship.
The ship had departed from Surabaya's Tanjung Perak Port on Thursday morning and was heading to Semayang Port in Balikpapan when it caught fire at around 8.45 p.m. in waters off the Masalembu Islands, located in the district of Sumenep in East Java.
Basarnas spokesman Yusuf Latif said the number of passengers on board KM Santika Nusantara had been updated to 277 from 111 previously, but so far rescuers have found 293 survivors and three bodies.
"The number of passengers on the manifest does not match the number of survivors that we've found. We have to find out how many passengers were actually on board the ship before we can calculate how many are still missing," Yusuf told the Jakarta Globe.
He said 87 survivors were evacuated to the Tanjung Perak Port, 154 to Sumenep on the nearby island of Madura and 52, along with the three dead, were put on a boat to Masalembu Island and then transferred to Surabaya on Saturday.
Most of the survivors were rescued by fishing boats and other ships that happened to be near the accident site.
"The search and rescue operation will continue for seven days, starting from the day the accident happened," Yusuf said.
On Saturday afternoon, Basarnas deployed a CN 235-200 airplane to help with the search for victims. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.