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8 killed in Indonesia ferry stampede

By Kathy Quiano, CNN
updated 8:52 AM EDT, Wed September 28, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Fifty-eight people are injured, 19 of whom are still in hospital
  • An explosion caused panic on the docked ferry, leading to a stampede
  • The blast was from a cargo truck carrying dried onions, an official says
  • This is the fourth sea transport accident this week in the archipelago

Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN) -- At least eight people were killed when an explosion triggered a stampede on a docked ferry in central Indonesia Wednesday, authorities said.

Fifty-eight others were injured, 19 of whom remain in the hospital following the incident in Surabaya, East Java, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a senior official at the National Disaster Management Agency.

Panic ensued when people heard the the explosion, sending about 875 passengers scrambling to get out, said Marzuki, an official with the local search and rescue agency.

Officials have given different accounts of what may have caused the blast.

Nugroho told CNN a fire on the ferry was apparently caused when a lamp on the deck set fire to a truck's cargo of dried onions.

Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan also said there was a fire in the truck and expressed disappointment that the stampede happened.

Marzuki said the explosion was from a cargo truck parked in the lower deck of the ferry. The truck's windshield broke and its engine exploded, but there was no fire, according to the official.

Sea transport is essential for travel in the country, and accidents are common. Bad weather, poor maintenance and safety management are often blamed for these accidents.

This is the fourth sea transport accident this week in the archipelago, which has more than 17,000 islands.

"There are clear safety regulations in Indonesia, but there are problems in the implementation on the ground," Ervan said.

Six people were killed Monday when a ferry collided with a tugboat it was towing from Surabaya to Banjarmasin, Nugroho said. A fire broke out and many passengers jumped off the ferry and were later rescued.

On Saturday, 13 people from a wedding party perished and 25 were injured when their boat sank between the islands of Goa-goa and Tondu, also in East Java. The accident was a result of overloading and bad weather, Nugroho said.

The boat, with a capacity of 20 passengers, had more than 30 on board, authorities said. The local search and rescue agency said the engine broke down and the boat was hit by large waves.

Last week, 11 people died, 13 are missing and 11 were rescued when their boat sank off the coast of Bali, Nugroho said. Survivors said the boat was hit by high waves.

Nugroho said disaster officials, ministry of transportation officials, police and search and rescue agencies are working together in each area.

Journalist Meidyana Rayana contributed to this report.

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