JAKARTA, Aug 18 (Reuters) – Bad weather was hampering a desperate search on Monday for two foreign tourists still missing after a boat travelling between two Indonesian islands sank at the weekend, although 13 more people had been plucked from the water alive, officials said.
A small cruise ship carrying 20 foreign tourists and five Indonesian crew sank on Saturday night as it sailed between Lombok and Komodo islands. Indonesian authorities had said as many as 15 of the tourists were missing overnight.
However, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the national disaster management agency, said 13 more people, including eight tourists and all five Indonesian crew, had been rescued in the hours since then.
“The survivors were found by fishermen, and they were found floating with life-jackets,” Nugroho said in a text message.
He said the survivors were being treated at a clinic on West Nusa Tenggara island, which lies between Lombok and Komodo. Conditions had turned against rescuers searching for the remaining two tourists.
“We have deployed speed boats and a helicopter … but we are encountering bad weather and high waves,” Nugroho said.
The tourists rescued so far are from Britain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.
Tajudin Sam, who runs the tour company that operated the ship, said it likely ran into stormy weather.
The ship was on a three-day trip from Lombok, a popular destination for tourists, to Komodo Island, which is famous for its giant monitor lizards.
Indonesia has a checkered maritime safety record among the thousands of ferries that criss-cross the vast archipelago. Two ships sank last month during the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holidays, killing 36 people. (Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor and Chris Nusatya; Editing by Randy Fabi and Paul Tait)
© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.