Jakarta: Twenty-six people were missing on Saturday after a ferry boat carrying 43 people on board capsized off Sulawesi island in Indonesia.
Officials said the motorboat ran out of fuel and sank in bad weather. It had left Paotere port in Makassar, capital of South Sulawesi province, on Thursday midnight was reported missing the next day when it failed to arrive its destination.
"We received information saying that 17 people were found and saved by passing tugboats," Djunaidi, the local search and rescue agency chief, told news agency AFP.
A group of 40 rescuers were at sea searching for survivors, he added, saying news of the accident only reached officials on Saturday.
On Thursday, Indonesia's weather agency had warned of waves up to 2.5 meters (8 feet) in the Makassar Strait areas.
Lax safety rules in Indonesia
With some 17,000 islands in the vast archipelago, Indonesia is a country that relies heavily on water transportation. This doesn't come without risks, and maritime accidents with high death tolls are quite common in the Southeast Asian country.
The weak enforcement of maritime safety regulations has often been cited for ferry disasters.
The local governments responsible for the safety of small boats and vessels do not have sufficient funds or human resources to enforce and ensure these safety standards.
Last week, a ferry carrying more than 800 people ran aground in shallow waters off East Nusa Tenggara province. No one was hurt in the accident.
In 2018, more than 150 people drowned when a ferry sank in one of the world's deepest lakes on Sumatra island.