Hundreds pray at Indonesia lake as search for bodies…

Hundreds pray at Indonesia lake as search for bodies...

TIGARAS, Indonesia (AP) – Hundreds of family members waiting in desperation at a small port on Indonesia’s Lake Toba for news of missing relatives performed mass prayers Thursday as the search for more than 190 people unaccounted for after a ferry sinking continued for a fourth day.

Only 18 people have been rescued and four confirmed dead since the overcrowded ferry sank early Monday evening in waters that officials say are up to 500 meters (1,640 feet) deep.

The disaster, likely Indonesia’s worst sinking in more than a decade, has prompted Indonesia’s President Joko Jokowi Widodo to call for an overhaul of safety standards for passenger boats. Ferries are an important means of transportation in the nation of more than 17,000 islands, which cover an area that would stretch from New York to London.

Relatives of victims of a sunken ferry wait for news at the Tigaras port in Toba lake, North Sumatra, Wednesday, June, 20, 2018. Officials said that over a hundred people are still missing from a ferry sinking early this week at a popular lake in Sumatra as distraught and angry relatives pleaded Wednesday for a bigger search effort. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

Cellphone video taken from another ferry that attempted to rescue people after the sinking has spread widely online and on television. The video shows dozens of people struggling in rough waters and crying for help while several of them try to swim for an orange lifesaver apparently thrown from the ferry.

Maruddin Siagian, waiting with other family members for news of his younger brother, said they’re haunted by those images.

We hope the government will never stop the search, never stop, until all the victims are found, Siagian said.

We’re tormented waiting for news about him, without any certainty like this. Especially our mother, he said. But we’re determined to keep waiting until the body of our brother is found. For us, his body is precious, we want to bury him properly for his soul to be peaceful, and so we are too.

The 1,145-square kilometer (440-square mile) Lake Toba, formed from the caldera of an ancient super volcano, is a popular sightseeing destination on the island of Sumatra and one of 10 stunning natural attractions in Indonesia that the government aims to develop as magnets for international and local tourists.

At a press conference on Wednesday evening, Jokowi said he’d instructed the search and rescue team involving divers and an underwater drone to find victims quickly and ordered the Ministry of Transport to review safety standards.

This tragedy is a lesson for all of us to always be cautious and vigilant, he said. The government will provide compensation to the families of the victims who died and guarantee the cost of care for those who need treatment.

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Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia.

Relatives of the victims of a sunken ferry inspect the list passengers at the Tigaras port in Toba lake, North Sumatra, Wednesday, June, 20, 2018. Officials said that over a hundred people are still missing from a ferry sinking early this week at a popular lake in Sumatra as distraught and angry relatives pleaded Wednesday for a bigger search effort. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)s

Relatives of victims of a sunken ferry weep as they wait for news at the Tigaras port in Toba lake, North Sumatra, Wednesday, June, 20, 2018. Officials said that over a hundred people are still missing from a ferry sinking early this week at a popular lake in Sumatra as distraught and angry relatives pleaded Wednesday for a bigger search effort. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

Relatives of victims of a sunken ferry wait for news at the Tigaras port in Toba lake, North Sumatra, Wednesday, June, 20, 2018. Distraught relatives slammed Indonesia’s government for not enforcing basic safety measures on passenger boats and pleaded Wednesday for a bigger search effort for the people missing since a ferry sank on a picturesque Sumatran lake early this week. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

Indonesian rescuers scan the horizon from the deck of a rescue ship as they search for a ferry which sank on Monday in Lake Toba, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Wednesday, June, 20, 2018. Distraught relatives slammed Indonesia’s government for not enforcing basic safety measures on passenger boats and pleaded Wednesday for a bigger search effort for the people missing since a ferry sank on a picturesque Sumatran lake early this week. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

Indonesian search and rescue team on boat searches for a ferry which sank Monday at Tigaras port in Toba lake, North Sumatra, Wednesday, June, 20, 2018. Distraught relatives slammed Indonesia’s government for not enforcing basic safety measures on passenger boats and pleaded Wednesday for a bigger search effort for the people missing since a ferry sank on a picturesque Sumatran lake early this week.(AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

Emergency rescue team members search for victims from a sunken ferry on Toba lake, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Wednesday, June, 20, 2018. Officials said that over a hundred people are still missing from a ferry sinking early this week at a popular lake in Sumatra as distraught and angry relatives pleaded Wednesday for a bigger search effort. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

Emergency rescue team members search for victims from a sunken ferry on Toba lake, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Wednesday, June, 20, 2018. Officials said that over a hundred people are still missing from a ferry sinking early this week at a popular lake in Sumatra as distraught and angry relatives pleaded Wednesday for a bigger search effort. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

Indonesian search and rescue team scan the horizon from the deck of a rescue ship during their search for a ferry which sank Monday in Lake Toba, North Sumatra, Wednesday, June, 20, 2018. Distraught relatives slammed Indonesia’s government for not enforcing basic safety measures on passenger boats and pleaded Wednesday for a bigger search effort for the people missing since a ferry sank on a picturesque Sumatran lake early this week. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

Indonesian rescuers search for a ferry which sank on Monday in Lake Toba, North Sumatra, Indonesia Wednesday, June, 20, 2018. Distraught relatives slammed Indonesia’s government for not enforcing basic safety measures on passenger boats and pleaded Wednesday for a bigger search effort for the people missing since a ferry sank on a picturesque Sumatran lake early this week. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

Relatives weep at Tigaras port after learning that their family members are among the passengers of a ferry which sank on Monday, in Lake Toba, North Sumatra, Indonesia Wednesday, June, 20, 2018. Distraught relatives slammed Indonesia’s government for not enforcing basic safety measures on passenger boats and pleaded Wednesday for a bigger search effort for the people missing since a ferry sank on a picturesque Sumatran lake early this week. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

Indonesian search and rescue team carry a victim body of a ferry sinking at Tigaras port in Toba lake, North Sumatra, Wednesday, June, 20, 2018. The boat, overcrowded with passengers and motorbikes, didn’t have a manifest and disaster officials have several times raised the number of people it was carrying as family members who rushed to Lake Toba in northern Sumatra provided information.(AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

An Indonesia search and rescue team searches for a ferry which sank Monday in lake Toba, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Rescuers searching for dozens of people missing after a ferry sank on Indonesia’s Lake Toba have found bags, jackets, an ID card and other items in the waters but no new survivors, casting a tragic pall over holidays marking the end of the Muslim holy month. (AP Photo)

 

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