Ferry sinks in Indonesia, leaving at least 10 dead

August 27, 2011 - 1:10 AM

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — An overcrowded ferry sank off eastern Indonesia early Saturday, killing at least 10 people, police said, as search-and-rescue teams scoured the choppy waters.

Ninety-three people 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 Bone 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."

Two of the dead were children, he said.

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, said Reppind, chief of the search-and-rescue operation.

He said six ships and one speedboat were at the scene, but that high waves were hampering their rescue efforts.

Reppind, like many Indonesians, goes by only one name.

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.