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Boat Sinks Off Indonesian Island

April 16, 2001

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ An overloaded boat ferrying passengers to church for Easter services sank near Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, killing at least 21 people, officials said Monday.

Fishing boats in the area have been called in to search for one person still missing, said Mokodompis Mahuling, a port official on Sangihe island, north of Sulawesi and about 1,100 miles northeast of Jakarta.

He said the small wooden boat sank Sunday after its engine broke down while carrying passengers between villages on Sangihe. Fifty-three people were on board at the time of the accident. Thirty-one of them have been rescued.

Fatal shipping disasters are common in Indonesia, a nation of some 17,000 islands. Captains often overload their poorly maintained vessels to maximize profits.

In February, a boat carrying 150 people sank near Halmahera island, killing 19 people. Hundreds have died in sea disasters in the past two years.

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