24 killed, 31 missing as storm strikes fishing ships in Indonesia

Rescuers have found 24 bodies and kept searching for 31 other missing persons after 18 ships were hit by storm in waters off West Kalimantan province in central Indonesia days ago, the top rescuer of the province said on Wednesday.

The incident took place in Sambas district when two tug boats and fishing ships had already taken position near the coast, and some others were on their way to the territory in response to the warning from the weather agency of the possibility of extreme weather condition, said Yopi Haryadi, head of the provincial search and rescue office.

“The death toll rises to 24 with 31 still our target in the search and rescue operation,” he said.

Haryadi said that a storm hit the area for two days a week ago, the Xinhua news agency reported.

He said that a total of 83 people on board of the ships have been rescued safely during the search and rescue operation.

According to the procedures, the operation would be carried out in three more days, said Eryk Subariyanto, head of the operational unit of the provincial search and rescue office.

However, the weather condition which started worsening on Wednesday, may hamper the search mission within the next three days, he said.

The mission involved a helicopter, a plane and ships, according to him.