A British-operated cruise ship has smashed into Indonesian coral reefs in an area regarded as one of the world’s best preserved marine environments.
The Caledonian Sky, which was carrying 102 passengers and 79 crew to the Philippines, ran aground in the Dampier Strait after a bird-watching trip to the island of Waigeo in West Papua.
Tabloid Jubi reported that after the 90-metre ship ran aground it evacuated all its passengers and then was pulled back out to sea by a tugboat from Sorong city.
According to Ricardo Tapilatu of the Research Center for Pacific Marine Resources at the University of Papua, the tugboat intervention was unfortunate because it damaged the reef even more.
Tapilatu told The Guardian that they should have waited for high tide to refloat the cruise ship.
The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fishery has already dispatched a team to investigate the level of damage endured by coral reefs in Raja Ampat
Tempo reported local marine experts as saying the damaged coral reefs would need another 10-20 years to recover.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) has urged national and regional governments to increase their maritime supervision following the accident.