Rescuers search for victims of the boat sinking accident on June 18 (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Jakarta (VNA) – Indonesian Ministry of Transportation has decided to halt the operation of all tourism boats in Lake Toba in seven days to serve the search for victims going missing in a boat sinking accident on June 18.

Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi said that the decision was agreed by 40 boat operators in five ports of Ambarita, Ajibata, Simanindo, Muara and Tigaras.

During the suspension, all boats will undergo safety checks. Only those meeting safety standards of Indonesia can resume operation after the restriction time to avoid similar accidents.

The ministry and the PT ASDP company have prepared two big ferries to serve passengers in traveling the lake. Both ferries have been tested to ensure their safety.

The Indonesian Government has mobilised a large force for searching activities. However, National Search and Rescue Agency head Mihammad Syaugi said that the work is tough due to bad weather while the lake is very deep at 300-500m.

The KM Sinar Bangun boat sank at about 5:30 p.m. as it sailed from Samosir, a volcanic island in the middle of Lake Toba to Parapat town. The survivors were rescued by nearby boats.

The accident left four dead and 192 missing. The boat is designed to carry only 43 passengers.

It was not immediately clear whether any foreigners were among the passengers. Most of the passengers are holidaymakers enjoying the country's 12-day-long Eid al-Fitr holiday.

The 3,000-square-kilometre Lake Toba, which is the largest volcanic lake in the world, is a popular spot for local and international tourists.

Ferry tragedies are common in Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands.-VNA