Indonesian tourist boat captain held after deadly fire

The Zahro Express became engulfed by fire on Sunday shortly after it set off from Jakarta carrying about 250 local holidaymakers to celebrate the New Year on nearby Tidung island. 

Indonesian tourist boat captain held after deadly fire

World Bulletin / News Desk

Indonesian police said Monday they have detained the captain of a tourist boat that burst into flames en route to a holiday island and left 23 people dead, amid reports he was the first to jump ship.

Panicked passengers fought over life jackets and jumped into the sea as the huge blaze tore through the ferry after starting in the engine room, with authorities blaming an electrical fault for the accident.

Most were rescued but 23 were killed and 50 suffered injuries, with 19 still in hospital on Monday, according to the disaster agency. 

Police said the captain, named in local reports as Muhammad Nali, had been detained Sunday and was being questioned over suspected negligence in relation to the fire, which reduced the boat to a blackened wreck.

Several local media outlets reported the captain had jumped ship first, abandoning the tourists as the fire erupted, and was found floating in the sea before being rescued.

Tonny Budiono, a senior official at the transport ministry, vowed to punish the captain if the allegations turned out to be true. 

"If the captain jumped first then he is not a real captain -- the captain should be the last," he was quoted as saying in local media. 

"If it is true we will revoke his licence, he will not be allowed to sail any more."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Ocak 2017, 10:29