UK & World News

  • 18 August 2014, 11:44

Britons' Swim Ordeal After Tourist Boat Sinks

Two Britons have received hospital treatment and two people remain missing after a tourist boat sank while travelling between islands in Indonesia.

The tourists were on a boat travelling from Lombok island to the Komodo Islands when the vessel is believed to have been hit by stormy weather.

A total of 23 people have been rescued - including the two Britons - but the fate of two foreign tourists is not known. 

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office confirmed the two Britons had been hospitalised following the accident on Saturday night. 

"We are in contact with the local authorities about the incident and stand ready to offer consular assistance to any other British nationals who may be involved," the spokeswoman said.

An Indonesian search and rescue official said the boat was carrying 20 foreigners and five locals in total.

The boat sank at 7pm on Saturday, but the alarm was only raised with rescue teams at 8am on Sunday due to "poor communication",  the official said.

Local fishermen saved a number of people near the island of Sumbawa before the rescue team arrived, he said.

Ten people were rescued first on Sunday, including tourists from  Britain, New Zealand, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and France.

French survivor Bertrand Homassel described how the boat started sinking after it was damaged in a storm.

Speaking from a hotel in Bima on Sumbawa, where the survivors were taken after being rescued, he said: "Six people were in the lifeboat. The others climbed on to the roof of the boat, which had not completely sunk.

"We waited until midday on Saturday. We were five kilometres (three miles) from the coast - there were many big waves separating us from the coast.

"People started to panic ... Everyone took the decision to swim to the closest island, five kilometres away, where there was an erupting volcano."

Mr Homassel said the group swam for six hours before arriving at the island of Sangeang, where they survived the night by drinking their own urine and eating leaves.

They were rescued on Sunday after they attracted the attention of a passing boat.

Rescue official Budiawan, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, said: "They were all found together, some in a lifeboat and some floating with their life jackets on around 60 miles (100km) off Sape.

"Budiawan, head of the search and rescue agency on Lombok island which lies to the west of Sumbawa, said they were now in the town of Sape.

"The search operation is continuing this morning, and involves the military and police."

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