Ferry sinks off Indonesian island, 29 dead

More than 160 people are still officially listed as missing after the overcrowded ferry on which they were travelling sank on Lake Toba in JuneMore

More than 160 people are still officially listed as missing after the overcrowded ferry on which they were travelling sank on Lake Toba in JuneMore

The Sulawesi ferry, with 139 passengers onboard according to its manifest, began sinking on Tuesday afternoon in rough seas.

Dramatic images showed passengers clinging onto railings with huge waves hitting the KM Lestari ferry.

The national search and rescue agency said the boat that ran into trouble near Sulawesi had been carrying 164 passengers and crew. Almost 70 people have been rescued, it added.

It added that most passengers had been wearing life jackets.

Indonesia's director-general of sea transportation, Agus Purnomo, said in a statement that people trapped on the ferry overnight were rescued early on Wednesday.

He said the boat owner and the captain were the last two people to leave the vessel. The vessel was close to shore at the time.

The ship was also carrying some $2 million worth of rupiah currency destined for a local bank branch on Selayar to pay local civil servants a bonus.

"We are still searching for three others who we strongly believe are still inside the ship", Amiruddin, who goes by a single name, said.

At least a dozen people, including two children, died Tuesday after a ferry ran aground off the coast of Indonesia, officials said, as rescuers raced to save more than 125 other passengers thought to be aboard the vessel. The Lake Toba sinking was the worst in about a decade. Many bodies are believed to be trapped inside the boat, which has settled on the bottom of the lake at a depth of around 450 meters.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago made up of more than 17,000 islands, suffers frequent boat accidents, with basic safety rules often flouted and vessels overloaded.

More than 300 people are estimated to have drowned in 2009 when a ferry sank between Sulawesi and Borneo islands.

Horrifying footage has been captured of a sinking ferry off the coast of Indonesia, with at least 29 souls lost.

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