JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A passenger ferry collided with a cargo ship and sank west of Indonesia’s main island Wednesday morning, and at least eight people were killed, officials said.
More than 200 crew and passengers were evacuated after the accident, said Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan, who initially said the second vessel was an oil tanker. It wasn’t immediately clear if all of them were OK, and a search for others is in progress where the accident occurred in the Sunda straits, west of Java island.
“So far it’s still unclear how many passengers were on board the ferry,” Ervan said, adding it had about 30 crew members. “We are still waiting for the manifest.”
Manifests are often unreliable in Indonesia because tickets are sold onboard to passengers who are never registered.
A helicopter and at least 10 ships were searching for survivors, said Gagah Prakoso, a spokesman for the National Search and Rescue Agency.
The Bahuga Jaya ferry links Java and southern Sumatra island. It went down after colliding with the South African-flagged Norr Gastar about six kilometers (four miles) off Bakahuni port in Sumatra.
There was no immediate word on whether the cargo ship was damaged.
Ferries are a major 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.