Indonesian officials said rough seas hampered efforts Sunday night to rescue more than 200 missing ferry passengers.
Authorities say Indonesian fishermen rescued 18 people off the western coast of Sulawesi island. The ferry sank early Sunday about 50 kilometers offshore.
The ferry's captain was among the survivors who were taken to the town of Majene in western Sulawesi.
The captain told officials that the vessel was hit by large waves during a storm early Sunday. He said about 150 people jumped off the ferry before it sank but he did not know what happened to them.
More than 250 passengers and crew were on board when the ferry left Sulawesi for the province of East Kalimantan on the Indonesian part of Borneo island.
Relatives of those on board gathered at the ferry's intended destination of Samarinda in East Kalimantan to await news of survivors.
Ferries are a key form of travel in Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago. Accidents are common because of poor enforcement of safety regulations and overcrowding.
In December 2006, a crowded Indonesian ferry sank in the Java Sea during a storm, killing about 400 people.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.