June 18, 2018 / 3:30 PM / in a month

Dozens missing after ferry sinks in Indonesia's Lake Toba

JAKARTA (Reuters) - An estimated 18 people were rescued and one was confirmed dead from among about 80 passengers aboard a ferry that sank on Monday in Lake Toba in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province, a disaster agency official said.

Search and rescue workers are seen on a boat used in the search for passengers from the Sinar Bangun ferry that sank in Lake Toba in Simalungun, North Sumatra, Indonesia June 19, 2018 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Lazuardy Fahmi/ via REUTERS

The Sinar Bangun ferry sank in rough weather at around 5:30 pm (1030 GMT) about a mile from the port of Tigaras, carrying passengers from the lake’s Samosir Island, Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPT) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

Nugroho added that search and rescue efforts had involved two other ferries and one wooden boat had been hampered by weather conditions in the area on Monday night.

It was not immediately clear if any of the missing passengers were foreigners.

Ferry accidents are common in Indonesia, a vast archipelago, especially during the Islamic holiday of Eid when millions make the annual journey by land, sea, and air to their hometowns after the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Last week a longboat carrying around 43 people sank off Makassar on Sulawesi island, leaving 13 dead, and a speedboat carrying 30 passengers sank off South Sumatra, killing at least two.

Lake Toba, a popular tourist destination promoted by the government, fills the caldera of a giant dormant volcano and is the largest lake in Indonesia and one of the deepest in the world.

Reporting by Tabita Diela; Writing by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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