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Indonesia calls off search for ferry wreck victims




Authorities called off the search Tuesday for a dozen people still missing after a ferry sank in central Indonesia with the loss of 78 lives, the latest maritime accident in the archipelago.

Sixty-six bodies have been recovered and 12 people are missing and presumed dead after the vessel went down in rough seas on December 19 in a gulf off Sulawesi island after being pummelled by massive waves.

Forty survivors were rescued soon after it sank.

“We have not found anyone today and there has been no sign we will find anyone else, so the operation has been officially called off,” search and rescue agency head Bambang Soelistyo told AFP.

Soelistyo said the agency has asked local fishermen and sailors to notify authorities if they found any more people.

Boats and aircraft had scoured the gulf for 10 days but not found any bodies since the weekend.

A total of 118 passengers and crew were on board the boat when it ran into trouble, with survivors describing massive waves smashing into the vessel before the engine died and the order was given to abandon ship.

The Indonesian archipelago of more than 17,000 islands is heavily dependent on ferry services but safety standards are poor and accidents common.

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