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AP/PA Images

Passengers and crew jump into sea to escape Indonesia ferry blaze

The KM Karya Indah was heading for Sanana on the island of Limafatola with nearly 200 people on board when it caught fire.

A FERRY WITH nearly 200 people on board caught fire in eastern Indonesia earlier today.

Passengers and crew members were forced to jump into the sea but no casualties were reported, officials said.

The vessel, KM Karya Indah, was heading for Sanana, a port on the remote island of Limafatola, said Wisnu Wardana, spokesman for the sea transportation directorate general.

The fire broke out 15 minutes after the ferry had departed from Ternate, the provincial capital of North Maluku province, at around 7am local time.

Phone video of the incident provided by the National Search and Rescue Agency showed passengers and crew clinging to floating objects as they struggled in the choppy water, with clouds of black smoke billowing from the blaze.

Mr Wardana said all 181 passengers, including 22 children, and 14 crew members were rescued and safely evacuated to a nearby island.

He said the agency’s rescue operation also involved local fishing boats that happened to be in the vicinity.

He said authorities are still investigating the cause of the incident, as survivors told authorities that the fire originated in the engine room.

Ferry accidents are common in Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation with more than 17,000 islands. Many accidents are blamed on the lax regulation of boat services.

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