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Raja Ampat Update: Captain of British Cruise Ship That Plowed Indonesian Reef Could Face Criminal Charges

Mar 16, 2017 05:41 AM EDT

The ship captain of MS Caledonia Sky, the British cruise ship that crashed into Indonesia's pristine coral reef in the Raja Ampat Islands, may be charged.

Indonesian authorities said Wednesday that the captain could face charges and spend time in prison, despite the company, Noble Caledonia Charitable Trust, covering the environmental damage via insurance.

"Insurance company may be willing to pay the environmental damage, but it does not absolve criminal side of the case," authorities told CNN.

On March 3, the British cruise ship crashed into Raja Ampat, damaging over 145,000 square feet (about 13,000 square miles) of pristine coral reef that's endemic to the island. According to the Papua State University, Regional Technical Implementing Unit and Conservation International Indonesia, the cost of the damage is approximately $18 million, according to a previous report.

MS Caledonia Sky weighs 4,200 tons and measures 295 feet. During the incident, there were 102 passengers on board who were bird-watching when the gigantic British cruise ship crashed into the reef due to low tide. The ship officials only used GPS and did not consult local guides.

Djoko Hartoyo, from the Information and Law Bureau of the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs, said the Raja Ampat coral reefs were naturally developed over hundreds of years. The cruise ship destroyed all of it in just one day.

"It is simply impossible to restore that part of Raja Ampat. Fish that were normally seen in that particular area were all gone," Hartoyo added.

Meanwhile, the Raja Ampat incident has resulted to a public outcry.

"I was born here, I was in tears when I saw this damage. The damage is huge and acute. It could take 10 to 100 years to repair it," Ruben Sauyai, a local diving instructor and dive center owner, told BBC.

The recent incident has been a wake-up call on the effect of cruise ships and tourism to the environment. In fact, Marine Insight revealed that cruise ships, like the MS Caledonia Sky, is a major threat to oceans and marine life. These cruise ships usually secrete their waste into oceans, resulting to damaged reefs and dwindling fish species.

To see how the British cruise ship damaged the Raja Ampat reef, check out the video below courtesy of Sauyai.

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