MIAMI, Florida–Fires breaking out on passenger ships is unfortunately not a rare event. This reported story is about the Zahro Express, a tourist boat in Indonesia. The boat was carrying about 250 passengers to an island north of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta when the boat caught fire. This tragedy ended by taking the lives of 23 passengers, who are reported dead as a result of this fire. Additionally, around 17 passengers were also injured and another 17 people are still missing. The fire cause, according to police, was believed to be an explosion in the engine room. It was accidental and most likely due to some sort of electrical fault.
What regulations this passenger ship in Indonesia was subjected to, what inspection they received on a regular basis, what certifications they had, and what other safety measures were in effect to deal with the possibility of a fire is unknown. What we do know is that accidents on the water in Indonesia are pretty frequent. Vessels are often overloaded and there are never enough life jackets for all the passengers.
We have previously written about the dangers of fires aboard cruise ships, and how they can be much more deadly than a fire on land because of the inability to have the fire department respond promptly. A fire at sea leaves a vessel pretty much on its own, with no trained firefighters and limited equipment involved in extinguishing a fire. A vessel also has to deal with problems the fire could cause, such as the loss of propulsion or damage to the vessel.