JARKATA - At least 130 passengers have been rescued from a sinking ferry off an Indonesian island, but 31 people were killed when the vessel went down in rough seas.
After spending the night on the stricken boat, the passengers were rescued early on Wednesday morning, officials said.
The KM Lestari Maju, which began sinking in rough seas near Sulawesi on Tuesday afternoon, had 139 passengers on board.
The vessel's captain steered it towards shore in a bid to save lives, grounding it between 655-985 feet (200-300 meters) from land.
Amiruddin, chief of the South Sulawesi search and rescue agency, said there were 164 people on the vessel including crew and that 130 survived. Three are missing, believed drowned inside the craft.
"We are still searching for three others who we strongly believe are still inside the ship," Amiruddin, who goes by a single name, said.
Indonesia's Director-General of Sea Transportation, Agus Purnomo, confirmed in a statement that people trapped on the ferry overnight were rescued early on Wednesday, but did not give any numbers.
He said the boat owner and the captain were the last two people to leave the vessel.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency released pictures showing passengers - most wearing life jackets - clinging to the listing vessel as others descended into the water.
The 159-foot vessel, carrying several dozen vehicles including a bus and trucks, was on its way to Selayar island, just south of the main Sulawesi island, from the port of Bira when it began taking on water.(FA)