JAKARTA, Indonesia – A ferry carrying scores of people sank Wednesday in eastern Indonesia after it reported being battered by 10-foot waves, and rescue ships picked up more than 100 survivors, officials said. Rescuers were still searching for at least 47 people believed to have been on board.
A navy spokesman in Jakarta said the ship's manifest showed it was carrying 82 passengers and crew, but a port official in Kupang on the western side of Timor island said there were more than 160 people on board when it left the harbor.
"So far, 113 people have been rescued alive," said Kupang port official Sinta, who like many Indonesians uses only one name. "Rescuers are still searching for at least another 47 people."
Many passengers apparently had time to put on lifejackets and board life rafts before the ferry sank, said Samsir Siahaan, port chief in Kupang, where the ferry originated.
The ferry contacted the Kupang port about two hours after leaving land to say it was turning back because of bad weather and waves up to 10 feet high, said naval spokesman Rear Adm. Yusuf Malik.
Accidents at sea are common in Indonesia, a vast archipelago where boat travel is often the only way to reach many islands. Ships regularly carry more passengers than are on their manifests.
The ferry was traveling from Kupang to Rote Island, a trip that normally takes around four hours. Kupang is some 1,250 miles east of Jakarta.