More than 20 killed, dozens injured after fire on Indonesian tourist boat

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JAKARTA, Jan 1 (Reuters) - Twenty three people were killed and dozens injured on Sunday after a fire ripped through a boat carrying nearly 250 people to islands north of the Indonesian capital Jakarta, the city's search and rescue agency said.

The Zahro Express caught fire shortly after leaving Muara Angke port in North Jakarta. The cause of the fire was thought to be a short circuit on a power generator, said police.

"Thick smoke suddenly emerged, blanketing the cabin," said survivor Ardi who was being treated in a Jakarta hospital.

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Indonesian rescue workers carry a survivor from a fallen building after an earthquake in Ulee Glee, Pidie Jaya, in the northern province of Aceh, Indonesia December 7, 2016. Antara Foto/Ampelsa/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT.
Indonesian rescue workers carry a survivor from a fallen building after an earthquake in Trienggadeng, Pidie Jaya, in the northern province of Aceh, Indonesia December 7, 2016. Antara Foto/Ampelsa/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT.
Injured people receive medical attention at a hospital following an earthquake in Sigli, Pidie regency, in the northern province of Aceh, Indonesia December 7, 2016 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Irwansyah Putra/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT.
Injured people receive medical attention in an emergency tent at a hospital following an earthquake in Sigli, Pidie regency, in the northern province of Aceh, Indonesia December 7, 2016 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Irwansyah Putra/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT.
Injured people receive medical attention at a hospital following an earthquake in Sigli, Pidie regency, in the northern province of Aceh, Indonesia December 7, 2016 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Irwansyah Putra/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT.
A medical officer checks the condition of an injured child at a hospital following an earthquake in Sigli, Pidie regency, in the northern province of Aceh, Indonesia December 7, 2016 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Irwansyah Putra/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT.
Motorcyclists pass a damaged section of a road following an earthquake in Meuredu, Pidie Jaya, in the northern province of Aceh, Indonesia December 7, 2016 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Irwansyah Putra/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT.
Motorcyclists pass a damaged section of a road following an earthquake in Meuredu, Pidie Jaya, in the northern province of Aceh, Indonesia December 7, 2016 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Irwansyah Putra/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT.
An injured man arrives at a hospital following an earthquake in Sigli, Pidie regency, in the northern province of Aceh, Indonesia December 7, 2016 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Irwansyah Putra/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT.
People walk near a collapsed mosque following an earthquake in Meuredu, Pidie Jaya in the northern province of Aceh, Indonesia December 7, 2016 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Irwansyah Putra/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT.
People walk near a collapsed mosque following an earthquake in Meuredu, Pidie Jaya in the northern province of Aceh, Indonesia December 7, 2016 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/ Irwansyah Putra/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Rescue workers use heavy equipment to search for victims in a collapsed building following an earthquake in Lueng Putu, Pidie Jaya in the northern province of Aceh, Indonesia December 7, 2016 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/ Irwansyah Putra/ via REUTERSATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT.
Rescue workers use heavy equipment to search for victims in a collapsed building following an earthquake in Lueng Putu, Pidie Jaya in the northern province of Aceh, Indonesia December 7, 2016 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/ Irwansyah Putra/ via REUTERSATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Rescue workers try to remove a victim from a collapsed building following an earthquake in Lueng Putu, Pidie Jaya in the northern province of Aceh, Indonesia December 7, 2016 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Irwansyah Putra/via REUTERSATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT.
Rescue workers and police remove a victim from a collapsed building following an earthquake in Lueng Putu, Pidie Jaya in the northern province of Aceh, Indonesia December 7, 2016 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/ Irwansyah Putra/ via REUTERSATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT.
ACEH, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 7: People walk on the debris of a collapsed building as the search and rescue works continue after a strong earthquake shook the north of Indonesia's Sumatra island Wednesday morning, killing at least 92 people and causing dozens of buildings to collapse, on December 7, 2016. More than 70 of the wounded suffered sever injuries in the magnitude 6.5 temblor, with victims being transported to at least three hospitals in the area. (Photo by Junaidi Hanafiah/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ACEH, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 7: Officials carry out search and rescue works on the debris of a collapsed building after a strong earthquake shook the north of Indonesia's Sumatra island Wednesday morning, killing at least 92 people and causing dozens of buildings to collapse, on December 7, 2016. More than 70 of the wounded suffered sever injuries in the magnitude 6.5 temblor, with victims being transported to at least three hospitals in the area. (Photo by Junaidi Hanafiah/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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"All passengers panicked and ran up to the deck to throw floats into the water. In a split second, the fire becomes bigger coming from where fuel is stored," said Ardi, who was on the boat with his son.

The boat was towed back to port where a Reuters witness saw victims in body bags being removed from the badly charred ship.

According to the head of Jakarta's search and rescue agency, Hendra Sudirman, 248 people were on board, more than double the previous estimate of 100, and out of more than 200 people rescued, 32 were being treated at hospitals in Jakarta.

Sea accidents are frequent in Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago, with vessels often overloaded and having too few life jackets on boat. (Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa, Angie Teo, and Johan Purnomo; Writing by Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Ed Davies and Michael Perry)

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