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Blame it on the Weather

30-Minute Ferry Trip from Java to Bali Turns into 12 Hours Ordeal as Ro-Ro Ferry Runs Aground.

(8/28/2010) A inter-island ferry sailing from Ketapang (Java) to Gilimanuk (Bali) lost power, drifted and eventually ran aground on a reef at 5:45 pm on Thursday, August 26, 2010. The KMP Dharma Rucitra - a ro-ro vessel, captained by Supardi, was officially carrying 138 passengers, 6 buses, 5 motorcycles, 8 trucks and a number of private vehicles. The Bali Post quotes other unnamed sources suggesting the ship was, in fact, carrying 250 passengers, 8 trucks, 3 motorcycles and 6 buses.

The ship was just two days out from a scheduled dry dock maintenance when its engines went dead and drifted onto a nearby reef. The ensuing low tide left the vessel high in the water and listing to the right making evacuation of passengers problematic. As a result, the passengers spent 12 hours on what was to have been a 30 minute ferry crossing before they could be evacuated to safety.

The tilting, stranded ship buffeted by high winds created a degree of understandable panic among the passengers. Within one hour after the grounding the chief of the Ketapang Port and officials from the ferry operators dispatched smaller boats with food and water for the passengers.

Shortly after midnight another ferry and a tugboat arrived at the scene and tried unsuccessfully to free the vessel and evacuate the passengers. It was only at sunrise on Friday morning, after more than 12 hours of being stuck on the reef, that the passengers were evacuated using rubber boats operated by the Indonesian Navy and the Maritime police. The small boats were used to ferry the passengers from the stranded vessel to another ferry standing by in deeper water a short distance away.

The head of the Ketapang office of PT Indonesia Fery Ketapang-Gilimanuk insisted to the press that the mishap was solely due to bad weather and was not linked to overloading.

The stranded ferry was eventually re-floated at 10:56 am and towed to back to port.