Italians saved after Indonesia shipwreck

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A total of 13 people were rescued on Monday, while two people remain missing. Photo: Andy Amaldan/AFP
11:45 CEST+02:00
UPDATED: Two Italians were among 13 people rescued on Monday after their tourist boat sank in Indonesia over the weekend, ending a horrific ordeal that had forced other survivors to swim to a volcanic island and drink their own urine.

The Italians, who have not yet been named, were picked up around 100 kilometres from Sape in the island of Sumbawa. Some of the group were found in a rubber dinghy, while others had been swimming in life jackets, Tgcom24 reported.

The Italians were said to be in a good condition and were taken to a nearby hospital for checks. They were saved alongside six other tourists, four Indonesian crew and one tour guide.

SEE ALSO: Two Spaniards missing in shipwreck: reports

A total of 25 people went missing on Saturday when the boat sank between the islands of Komodo and Lombok. Ten tourists were rescued on Sunday after swimming to the island of Sangeang, while two people remain missing. 

SEE ALSO: Germans rescued from drowned holiday cruise

The vessel went down slowly close to Sangeang, breaking up into pieces, after running into a reef and being hit by a storm. But there was no communications equipment on board to radio for help.

A French survivor rescued on Sunday told how they perched on the roof of the boat for hours the previous day as it sank, and eventually decided to swim to an island on the horizon, even though a volcano on it was emitting smoke at the time.

Bertrand Homassel told AFP it took them hours to swim to the island, but they had no choice as the vessel's single lifeboat only had room for a handful of people.

"The others climbed onto the roof of the boat, which had not completely sunk," he said.

"We were five kilometres from the coast - there were many big waves separating us from the coast.

"People started to panic...Everyone took the decision to swim to the closest island five kilometres away, where there was an erupting volcano."

They managed to reach the island after swimming for six hours, only to find it deserted.

Dehydrated and sunburnt after being exposed to the fierce Indonesian sun for such a long time, they resorted to drinking their own urine and eating leaves to survive overnight on the island, Homassel said.

They were rescued the next day by a passing boat and taken to nearby Sumbawa island, where they are receiving medical treatment and recovering. "I was really very lucky," the Frenchman added.

Dutchman Jan van Ommen, rescued on Monday, said they were in the water for about 40 hours, and took it in turns to spend stints in the lifeboat and floating in the water wearing the life jackets.

"So we had this system, and in the beginning it was not easy ...but later on the system went on, and we changed and changed," he said.

He recalled how the crew started panicking on Friday night when the boat was hit by a storm and began taking on water.

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"The crew came out shouting 'Very dangerous situation'" as water started gushing into the boat, he said.

None of those rescued have serious injuries, officials said. An immigration official on Sumbawa said the second group were "quite weak as they didn't eat or drink for several days in the sea. They have minor injuries like scratches."

The boat was carrying 25 people. The foreigners rescued were from Italy, New Zealand, Britain, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and France.

A search for the two Spanish men still missing was under way on Monday, with the military and police involved.

Komodo island is one of several islands that make up the Komodo National Park, a protected area. Its eponymous lizards can grow up to three metres long and have a venomous bite.

Indonesia relies heavily on boats to connect its more than 17,000 islands, but has a poor maritime safety record. However boat sinkings involving foreign tourists are rare.

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