Kolaka: An overcrowded ferry sank off eastern Indonesia early Saturday, killing at least 12 people, officials said, as search-and-rescue teams scoured the choppy waters.
Ninety-three people, including the captain, were rescued, but officials feared others were trapped inside the sunken vessel, said Brig. Gen. Sigit Sudarmanto, a police chief on Sulawesi island.
The Windu Karsa, traveling from the town of Bajoe to Kolaka, went down just after midnight in waters off southern Sulawesi as many passengers were sleeping.
Survivors told investigators that the ship capsized hours after a leak was discovered in the rear.
"Many of those pulled from the water were not wearing life jackets," Sudarmanto said. "They just had on pajamas or sarongs."
It`s not clear how many people were aboard the ship.
The manifest — generally unreliable in Indonesia because tickets are sold onboard to passengers who are never registered — listed only 57 passengers and 20 crew, Sudarmanto said.
Many were heading home to celebrate the end of the Islamic fasting month, Ramadan.
Rescue official Budi Rahardjo said 12 bodies were recovered. Rescue teams took to the air and sea using a helicopter, six ships and a speedboat to search for more victims, but high waves were hampering their efforts, he said.
Ferries are a main source of transportation in Indonesia, the world`s largest archipelago nation, with more than 17,000 islands and a population of 240 million. Sea accidents are common due to overcrowding and poor safety standards.