(AP) An Indonesian passenger ferry sank in a storm Sunday with around 250 passengers and 17 crew onboard after being battered by seven-foot waves, officials said.
Eighteen survivors were rescued by fishing boats, but the fate of the others remained unclear, said Taufik, a port official who uses one name, as is common in Indonesia.
Transport Minister Jusman Syafi'i Djamal said the captain reported that 150 people had jumped off the boat before it sank, but he did not know what happened to them.
"We have prepared a search and rescue operation, but now there are high waves hampering the process," Djamal said.
It went down 30 miles off western Sulawesi after the ship radioed that it was "hit by a storm," said Nurwahida, a port official.
Eighteen passengers and crew were saved by fishermen who found them drifting on three life rafts, Taufik said, citing a survivor's account.
Boats are a major form of transportation in Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands and a population of 235 million. Poor enforcement of safety regulations and overcrowding causes accidents that claim hundreds of lives each year.