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Rescuers hunt for 30 missing after Indonesian ferry catches fire

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JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian rescuers searched on Friday for 30 people missing from the blazing wreckage of a ferry off the coast of Java island.

The KM Santika Nusantara was travelling between the country’s second-largest city of Surabaya and the town of Balikpapan on Borneo island with 277 people on board, when it caught fire on Thursday evening, government official Syahrul Nugroho told TV channel TV One.

“About 245 people have been evacuated using small boats, while 30 passengers are still missing,” he said.

Officials have given no details on the cause of the fire. Rescue efforts were complicated by the boat’s manifest listing only 111 passengers, officials said.

Ferries are an important means of transport in Indonesia, which is made up of some 17,000 islands, and sea connections are cheaper and more extensive than air links.

But safety standards are not always strictly enforced and accidents occur fairly often.

(Reporting by Jessica Damiana and Fanny Potkin)

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