20 Dead, 39 Rescued in Indonesian Boat Capsizing

A ferry is seen at sea in Indonesia in 2006. Photo: kulo / Flickr

JAKARTA — A boat carrying Indonesian workers home from Malaysia capsized Wednesday in stormy weather, and Indonesian police said at least 20 people have died.

About 90 people were on the vessel that capsized off the island of Batam about 5 a.m, the island’s police chief Sambudi Gusdian said.

A search effort underway for hours has rescued 39 people so far.

Haryanto, a 51-year-old survivor, said the speedboat capsized amid heavy rains and high waves about two hours after it left Johor Bahru in Malaysia.

He said the boat was overcrowded with standing room only.

A police helicopter and more than a dozen boats are involved in the search and rescue effort.

Speedboats and ferries are a common form of transport in Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago.

Sinkings are common due to poorly enforced safety regulations.

One of the worst ferry sinkings in recent years occurred off Sulawesi in 2009, killing more than 330 people.