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Cargo ship, 24 crew missing in Maluku, Indonesia

JAKARTA: A cargo ship and two dozen crew are reportedly missing after vanishing in waters off Indonesia’s remote Maluku islands, authorities said Wednesday.

The 190-meter vessel, carrying nickel ore, was traveling from Halmahera island to Sulawesi island when it sent a distress call shortly before losing radio contact last week.

Rough seas hampered earlier efforts to reach the remote area of the vast archipelago where the ship was last detected, according to local search and rescue chief Muslimin Samaila.

“We got there and found nothing,” he said. “There was no sign of the boat or its crew. Its whereabouts are a mystery.”

The incident comes after three people died and more than 300 were rescued when a boat traveling from Indonesia’s second-biggest city Surabaya to Balikpapan on Borneo island burst into flames on Friday.

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

In June, 21 people died when an overloaded ferry sank in rough seas off Java’s north coast.

Some 160 people drowned when an Indonesian ferry sank into the depths of one of the world’s deepest lakes on Sumatra island last year.


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