The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

13 more people rescued but 2 foreign tourists still missing after boat sinks in Indonesia

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MATARAM, Indonesia - Rescuers on Monday safely recovered 13 more people from a tourist boat that sank after hitting a reef in central Indonesia, but were searching for a Dutch man and an Italian woman who were still missing, officials said.

The boat sank Saturday evening on its way from Lombok island to Komodo island carrying 20 foreign tourists, four Indonesian crewmen and an Indonesian guide. Ten people — all foreigners — were rescued Sunday.

Eight more foreign tourists and all five Indonesians were found early Monday, said Lalu Wahyu Efendi, operational chief for the search and rescue agency in Mataram, the provincial capital of West Nusatenggara.

He said the 13 were rescued by fishermen about 43 kilometres (27 miles) east of where their wooden boat sank off Sangeang Api, a volcanic island in Bima district off the eastern coast of Sumabwa island.

Most of those who were rescued had minor injuries, said Efendi, adding that rescuers were still scouring the waters for the two missing foreigners.

A woman who was rescued Sunday told MetroTV that she and the others swam for hours before being found.

"It was a terrible experience. We swam in choppy waters for seven hours before being found by a fisherman," said the woman, identified only as Maria.

The rescued foreigners included five Dutch, four Germans, three Italians, two each from Spain and New Zealand, and one each from France and Britain, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesman for Indonesia's disaster management agency.

The boat was hit by a 3-meter-high (10-foot-high) wave in bad weather and crashed into a reef, causing it to leak and sink, Nugroho said.

The tourists had embarked Thursday on a tour taking them from the resort island of Bali to Komodo island, including a stop on Lombok. A boat trip from Lombok to Komodo can take up to 15 hours.

Komodo is part of the Lesser Sunda chain of islands and forms part of Komodo National Park, which is known for endangered Komodo dragons that can grow longer than 3 metres (10 feet).

Boat accidents are common in Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago nation of more than 17,000 islands, in part because of poor safety standards.

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Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini and Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

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