Indonesian authorities say a search and rescue operation continued Tuesday for at least 200 migrants from the Middle East who went missing when their boat capsized near the coast on Saturday. Disaster management officials were notified of the accident later Saturday when fishermen rescued 34 people from the water. On Monday, a coal freighter found 13 others clinging to floating debris.
An estimated 248 people were on board the wooden boat when it sank during a violent storm. The boat was headed to Christmas Island, an Australian territory located about 1,600 miles northwest of the capital of Perth. Australian authorities are assisting in the search and rescue operation.
A spokesman for Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency said all of the missing are feared dead. One of the survivors, a 17-year-old Afghan boy, told the AFP he witnessed many passengers, including his uncle and two brothers, drown.
"Many people did not know how to swim and were sitting on a large plank of wood from the wreckage. When the waves hit one side, we shifted to the other," Samin Gul Afghani said. “One by one, they were swept away by the waves and drowned. Many were old people and young children."
"They died in front of my eyes,” he said of his uncle and brothers. “I could do nothing to save them.”
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