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400 ferry passengers still missing

January 01, 2007|From the Associated Press

SEMARANG, INDONESIA — Rescue boats picked up scores of exhausted survivors Sunday from an Indonesian ferry that sank during a storm, but at least 400 remained missing in the choppy Java Sea, officials and media reports said.

Almost two days after the ship went down, helicopters dropped food and water to a group of about 30 people drifting in a life raft after heavy waves prevented rescuers from getting to them, Transport Minister Hatta Radjasa said.

Rescued passengers told harrowing stories of the minutes before the Senopati Nusantara capsized about midnight Friday, as well as the struggle to survive in the hours that followed.

Waluyo, 50, said he held on to a large tire and saw two of his children lose their grip and drown.

"For 17 hours we held on, sometimes being turned over in the swell, but one by one the people fell off, including my two children," he said from a hospital Sunday. "I could not do anything apart from pray." Like many Indonesians, Waluyo uses one name.

Radjasa said at least 157 survivors had been found.

Ships also recovered at least 66 bodies, an official said.

Indonesia's tropical waters are generally 72 to 84 degrees, and people have been known to survive days at sea.

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