2 tourists killed, 13 injured in explosion on Bali ferry

Police are seen at the port where a ferry carrying tourists to the nearby island of Lombok departed from in Padangbai, Bali Indonesia September 15, 2016. © Handout
Two tourists were killed and 13 injured when an explosion struck a ferry traveling between the Indonesian islands of Bali and Lombok. Authorities are investigating the cause of the blast.

“Two of them died, 13 were injured,” Bali police spokesman Made Sudana said in a statement, adding the explosion happened off the coast of Lombok.

Although initial reports identified the fatalities and Indonesian and Dutch nationals, AP later cited police, who said a German woman had been killed.

“One of the passengers died from bad injuries after being hit by boat debris that also caused injuries in others,” local police chief Sugeng Sudarso said, as quoted by AAP.

The injured passengers included tourists from Portugal, Germany, Australia, South Korea and the UK, according to preliminary information cited by the Guardian.

The explosion took place just five minutes after the ‘Gili Cat 2’ speedboat departed, Sudarso told AFP, adding that the vessel was a mere 200 meters away from its departure point at Padang Bai port when the blast occurred.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion, but authorities do not believe it was a bomb. Police are questioning the boat's captain.

“Based on the testimony [from passengers] and from what I saw on the scene, the explosion came from the fuel tank,” Sudarso said. “Above it was a battery - maybe there was a short circuit that affected the fuel tank.”

The boat was carrying 35 passengers and four crew members at the time of the explosion.

Indonesia's archipelago is home to more than 17,000 islands, of which Bali and Lombok are two of the most popular holiday locations. The area is heavily dependent on ferry services, despite the industry having a poor safety record and a history of fatal accidents.

Last year, a series of small explosions hit a ferry crossing between Bali and Lombok, injuring dozens of tourists. The explosions are believed to have come from the fuel tank of the ferry, which was carrying 129 passengers at the time.