POLICE on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali say two people were killed and 20 others injured following an explosion on a speed boat ferrying them to neighboring Lombok.
Karangasem police chief Bambang Sudarso said Thursday that the “Gili Cat 2” fast boat had more than 40 people including crew on board. He said all the passengers have been evacuated from the boat.
He said the explosion occurred about 200 meters (220 yards) from the port of departure and was preceded by smoke billowing from the engine.
“The explosion happened five minutes after the boat departed,” Sugeng said.
“One female passenger died from head injuries.”
The passengers included foreign tourists from Australia, Britain, France, Netherlands and South Korea.
Sudarso said police are still investigating the cause of the explosion and are not discounting the possibility of ill intent or negligence.
“Based on the testimony (from passengers) and from what I saw on the scene, the explosion came from the fuel tank,” he was quoted as saying on LBC.
“Above it was a battery, maybe there was a short circuit that affected the fuel tank,” he said.
Initial reports from the incident have provided conflicting accounts of the nationalities of those killed. A few reports said an Indonesian woman was killed along with a German tourist, while other accounts claimed the second victim was from the Netherlands.
Police are questioning the boat’s captain.
The Jakarta Post quoted the Denpasar Port Health Office (KKP) saying that twenty people were taken to hospital for injuries.
According to the paper, the explosion occurred at 9:35am local time just after the speed boat left Padangbai Port in Karangasem, Bali.
The group was headed for several destinations, including Gili Trawangan in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.
KKP’s Padangbai office coordinator Putu Swardiana confirmed that the incident happened only 200 meters from Padangbai Port.
“Witnesses saw smoke emanating from an area near the boat’s engine. It was reported that a liquid tank exploded,” Putu was quoted as saying.
Additional reporting from the Associated Press