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Boat capsizes in Indonesia, at least 8 dead

August 15, 2013

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — An overloaded boat with Indonesians performing a traditional ceremony at sea to celebrate the end of Ramadan capsized in high waves Thursday, killing at least eight villagers, an official said.

Search teams and local fishermen rescued 34 injured people and rushed them to a nearby hospital in Central Java’s town of Jepara, said local police chief Lt. Col. Taslim Chaerudin. The wooden boat was designed to hold only 20 people, he added.

The boat sank shortly after a 3-meter wave crashed into it off Panjang island with more than 40 villagers onboard, Chaerudin said. They were heading home to nearby Kartini beach after performing the ceremony to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Islamic holy month.

Many onboard panicked when the boat began to tip, even though it was daylight and the accident occurred close to shore packed with hundreds of villagers watching the ceremony, which involves throwing slaughtered buffalo heads into the sea. Many of those who drowned could not swim, he said.

Rescuers were scouring the waters for possible survivors because an unknown number of people were onboard. Police are questioning the boat’s captain.

Accidents at sea are common in Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation with more than 17,000 islands, in part because of overcrowding and poor safety standards.

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