Indonesian rescuers step up search for 21 missing fishermen

MAKASSAR: Indonesian rescuers stepped up search efforts for 21 missing Indonesian fishermen today, officials said, with another survivor found after their boat capsized days earlier leaving two dead.

At least 12 crew members have been found after they survived for days by clinging to their boat when it overturned on Saturday in waters off the remote Selayar islands in South Sulawesi province.

The boat was carrying a crew of 35 but two were found dead on the islands after the incident and 21 remain missing.

"We deployed a boat from Makassar to the Selayar waters. There are 49 personnel involved," head of the local search and rescue agency Mexianus Bekabel said today, referring to the provincial capital of South Sulawesi.

Bekabel said the vessel was the biggest deployed yet, equipped with two rigid inflatable boats to aid the search effort.

"We hope with more people and equipment, we can find the victims as soon as possible," he said.

The latest survivor was rescued by a fishing boat while he was floating alone, wearing a life jacket and waving a flag near Jinato island, part of the Selayar archipelago, on Tuesday.

He was taken to the island, where villagers later notified rescuers who picked him up from the island on Wednesday.

"Praise God, he is getting better and can move his body," Andi Sulistilawanti, the head of Jinato villag, told AFP.

Authorities received reports about the incident on Tuesday but said bad weather had hampered their efforts.

The navy and rescue volunteers were helping with the search efforts.

Marine accidents are a regular occurrence in Indonesia, a Southeast Asian archipelago of around 17,000 islands, mainly due to lax safety standards.

In 2018, more than 150 people drowned when a ferry sank in one of the world's deepest lakes on Sumatra island.

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