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Indonesian Ferry Sinks, 100 Aboard

May 7, 2000

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ An overloaded ferry carrying more than 100 passengers sank Sunday in waters off Ambon island, the official Antara news agency reported.

Rescuers found 20 bodies in the sea where the ferry went down, and had rescued 27 survivors, the agency said.

The fate of the other passengers and crew members was unknown. Navy vessels have been dispatched to aid in search efforts, the report said.

The ferry KM Masnait was en route from Ambon to the port of Waipirit on Seram island, about 1,450 miles east of Jakarta. It sank about five hours after leaving port.

The ferry, which was overloaded with the passengers, four vehicles and 60 tons of cement and fertilizer, was swamped by two large waves and then capsized, Antara said.

The issue of overloading is a chronic problem in Indonesian shipping, and maritime disasters are frequent. Insurers say weight regulations are routinely ignored and enforcement is sporadic at best.

In one of the worst recorded disasters, an overcrowded passenger ship sank in February 1999 with 332 people aboard. There were only 20 survivors.

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