JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesian police on Thursday arrested two crewmen of the overcrowded speedboat that capsized the day before as rescuers continued searching for the dozens of passengers still missing.
Batam island police chief Sambudi Gusdian said the two crewmen, who were among the 39 people rescued, were arrested as they tried to flee to the nearby island of Bintan. The fate of a third crewman, believed to be the captain, was still not known, he said. A woman believed to be responsible for the voyage had been arrested Wednesday as she tried to leave Batam for nearby Singapore.
The boat was carrying Indonesian workers home from Malaysia when it capsized off the Indonesian island of Batam early Wednesday during stormy weather. Police suspect the trip was illegal and the workers were undocumented because of the high fares that passengers said they paid.
The search effort, suspended overnight, started again at daylight with some 280 personnel involved, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, head of the country's disaster mitigation agency.
Eighteen bodies have been identified and 39 people were rescued Wednesday. Sutopo said 101 people were on the boat and 44 are missing.
Hardin Nafiih, chief of the area's disaster mitigation agency, said the boat sank about 7.4 kilometers (4.6 miles) from land.
Haryanto, a 51-year-old survivor, said the boat capsized in heavy rain and high waves about two hours after it left Johor Bahru in Malaysia.
"It was so crowded some of us could not sit," said Haryanto, who was saved by fishermen. Like many Indonesians, he goes by one name.
Speedboats and ferries are a common form of transport in Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago. Sinkings are common due to poorly enforced safety regulations.
One of the worst ferry sinkings in recent years occurred off Sulawesi island in 2009, killing more than 330 people.