World

Captain of tourist boat arrested after deadly fire

JAKARTA: Indonesian police yesterday detained the captain of a tourist boat amid reports that he was the first to jump ship after it burst into flames killing 23 people.

The Zahro Express was engulfed by fire on Sunday shortly after it set off from Jakarta carrying about 250 local holidaymakers to celebrate the New Year on a nearby resort island.

Panicked passengers fought over life jackets and jumped overboard. Authorities blamed an electrical fault for the blaze which started in the engine room.

Most were rescued, but 50 were injured, authorities said.

Police said the captain was being questioned for suspected negligence.

"We are still investigating the case and questioning the captain," Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono told AFP.

Local media outlets reported the captain jumped ship first, abandoning the tourists and was found in the sea with other passengers before being rescued.

Mr Tonny Budiono, a senior official at the transport ministry, vowed that the captain would be punished if the allegations were true. - AFP

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