JAKARTA, Indonesia – As many as 200 people were feared dead days after a ferry capsized in rough seas off eastern Indonesia, a rescue official said Sunday.
The 150-ton KMP Digul sank Thursday night off the coast of Papua (search) province while heading from the port town of Merauke to Tanah Merah, about 124 miles to the north, said Sumpeno Juono of the local Search and Rescue agency.
The ferry was officially reported to be carrying 50 crew and passengers, but survivors said about 200 people were onboard, Sumpeno told The Associated Press. So far, only 15 — two crewmen and 13 passengers — have been found.
Sumpeno said the overloaded ferry — which was also carrying vehicles, heavy equipment and 40 tons of diesel oil — did not have any safety equipment and sank quickly in rough waters.
"We believe the number of missing passengers could reach almost 200," said Sumpeno, who had little hope of finding any more survivors.
Rescue operations were hampered Sunday by heavy rains and 13-feet-high waves, he said.
Other officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Boat accidents are common in Indonesia, a vast archipelago where safety rules are poorly enforced and rescue vessels are often unavailable.
Merauke is about 2,360 miles east of the capital, Jakarta (search).