An explosion on a ferry carrying 35 tourists between the Indonesian resort islands of Bali and Lombok on Thursday killed two people, an Indonesian and a Dutch national, and injured 13, police said.
“Two of them died, 13 were injured,” Bali police spokesman Made Sudana said, adding the explosion happened off the coast of Lombok.
“It seems there was some sort of explosion on the boat, so there was an emergency with the engine.”
It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion in the speedboat but police said they did not think it was caused by a bomb. Indonesia has a poor maritime safety record and there have been similar incidents in the past where no foul play was detected.
Authorities said the woman killed on the boat, which was heading for the nearby holiday island of Gili Trawangan, was a foreigner but that they were still verifying her identity.
The injured passengers included nationals from Portugal, Germany, Australia, South Korea and Britain, according to preliminary information from the police.
The boat was carrying 35 passengers, all foreigners, and four crew, and had just left Padang Bai port in eastern Bali on Thursday morning when the blast occurred.
“The explosion happened five minutes after the boat departed,” local police chief Sugeng Sudarso said, adding the vessel had been about 200m from the port.
“One female passenger died from head injuries.” He said the injured passengers were being taken to hospitals on the island.
He said authorities were investigating and police and the bomb squad had been deployed, although he later appeared to rule out a bomb as the cause.
“Based on the testimony [from passengers] and from what I saw on the scene, the explosion came from the fuel tank,” he said. “Above it was a battery, maybe there was a short circuit that affected the fuel tank.”
The Indonesian archipelago of more than 17,000 islands is heavily dependent on ferry services but the industry has a poor safety record and fatal accidents are common.
Last year, dozens of tourists were injured when small explosions hit a ferry crossing between Bali and the neighbouring holiday island of Lombok.
The explosions were an accident and thought to have come from the fuel tank of the ferry, which was carrying 129 passengers, most of them tourists.
Bali and neighbouring Lombok are two of Indonesia’s most popular holiday destinations.
This is a developing news story. More to come.