Ship sinks off Indonesia's Sulawesi, 15 dead

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JAKARTA, Oct 19 (Reuters) An Indonesian passenger ship capsized off the island of Sulawesi, killing 15 people and leaving six missing, a transport ministry official said today.

The small wooden ship, carrying 71 passengers and 11 crew, sank on Thursday night just before reaching the town of Baubau in southeastern Sulawesi, transport ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said.

''Preliminary investigations have indicated that the ship may have sunk because passengers piled onto one side... tipping its balance and causing it to roll over,'' he said.

''It wasn't because of a big wave. The weather was normal.'' The safety record of Indonesian passenger ships and ferries, widely used to connect the thousands of islands in the archipelago, is poor with vessels frequently overloaded and in poor condition.

REUTERS SYU DS1232

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