Death toll in Indonesia boat mishap now 54

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BATAM, Indonesia: The death toll from a speedboat accident in Indonesia has climbed to 54, an official said Friday, after dozens of bodies were found floating in the ocean.

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Search teams Friday pulled another 36 corpses from the sea around Batam island, south of Singapore, near where the boat struck a reef and sunk more than two days ago, local police chief Sam Budi Gusdian told reporters.

The overcrowded speedboat was carrying three crew and 98 passengers, mostly Indonesian migrant workers, from Malaysia to Batam at the time of the accident.

Authorities managed to save 41 passengers and had hoped to find more alive before making the grisly discovery.

“Forty-one people have been found alive while six remain missing. The rest died, Gusdian told reporters.

Only 12 passengers have been formally identified, he added. Among the dead were two young girls.

Police said the passengers were likely illegal Indonesian migrant workers returning from jobs in Malaysia, and the boat was over capacity at the time of the accident.

One of the crewmembers managed to survive and was being questioned by police, Gusdian said.

The Indonesian archipelago of more than 17,000 islands is heavily dependent on boat transport, but safety standards are lax and fatal accidents common.

More than 60 people died in December when huge waves capsized a ferry charting a course through Sulawesi province.

AFP

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