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Indonesian Churches help ferry tragedy victims

JAKARTA (UCAN): Catholic and Protestant Churches in Indonesia have rushed to provide assistance and counselling for survivors and families of those killed or presumed dead after an overloaded ferry capsized in Lake Toba, North Sumatra, on June 18.
Capuchin Father Markus Manurung, director of the Caritas branch of the Archdiocese of Medan said that they moved quickly to provide assistance after the passenger ferry, Sinar Bangun, sank while crossing the lake in bad weather with more than 200 passengers on board, way more than its official capacity of 43 passengers.
Father Manurung said nearby Catholic parishes were currently working with local Protestant Churches to provide counselling to the victims’ families.
“They are also contributing food and other aid,” he said.
The Ministry of Social Affairs, meanwhile said it would provide assistance of 15,000,000 rupiah ($8,300) to the family of each victim.
However, Father Manurung also accused the authorities as being as much to blame for the tragedy as the ferry operator as it was unlicensed and also sailed without a passenger manifest, according to police.
“Nothing has been done for decades to try and prevent something like this happening,” the priest said.
“There are no standard operating procedures and boats are not checked regularly,” he said, adding, “Passengers do not know what the safety regulations—if there are any—are.” 

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