On New Year’s Day, the Zahro Express caught fire while en route from Muara Angke Port in Jakarta to Tidung Island, local media report.
The vessel had a maximum capacity of 280 passengers. The boat manifest listed 100 passengers, but Jakarta search and rescue spokesman Ramli Prasetio said 247 passengers had been rescued so far while an unknown number may still be missing.
The 20 bodies found on the ferry have been badly burnt, making it difficult to identify them.
According to witness statements the fire started in the engine room about 20 minutes after the ferry left port. The ferry subsequently filled with black smoke. People panicked and jumped overboard, some fighting for life jackets. The ferry is said to have then exploded.
The captain of the ferry has been detained as he is said to be the first to abandon ship. Furthermore, three crew members and two port authority staff are being held in police custody as well.
Unfortunately, Indonesia has a poor ferry safety record. The National Transportation Safety Commission reports an increase in the number of accidents due to both extreme weather and human error. The number of incidents increased from 15 in 2015 to 28 in 2016, according to local media.