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Storm sinks Indonesian ferry with 250 passengers

An Indonesian passenger ferry sank in a storm Sunday with about 250 passengers and 17 crew aboard after it was battered by two-metre waves, officials said.

An Indonesian passenger ferry sank in a storm Sunday with about 250 passengers and 17 crew aboard after it was battered by two-metre waves, officials said.

Eighteen survivors were rescued by fishing boats, but the fate of the others remained unclear, said Taufik, a port official who uses one name, as is common in Indonesia.

The 635-tonne Teratai Prima sank en route from the western port of Parepare on the island of Sulawesi to Samarinda, East Kalimantan, on the Indonesian half of Borneo.

It went down 50 kilometres off western Sulawesi after the ship radioed that it was "hit by a storm," said Nurwahida, a port official.

Eighteen passengers and crew were saved by fishermen who found them drifting on three life rafts, Taufik said, citing a survivor's account.

The closest town to the accident site is Majene, about 1,370 kilometres northeast of capital Jakarta.

Boats are a major form of transportation in Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands and a population of 235 million.

Poor enforcement of safety regulations and overcrowding causes accidents that claim hundreds of lives each year.   

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