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37 Survivors, 2 Bodies Found From Indonesian Ferry Accident


Rescue workers, police and residents prepare to unload the body of a ferry victim in Kolaka, South East Sulawesi, Indonesia, Dec. 20, 2015.

More than three dozen survivors of an overturned ferry in central Indonesia have been plucked from rough seas.

An official with Indonesia's National Agency for Disaster Management told VOA 37 survivors and the bodies of three children have been found in the choppy water.

"The ship [was] carrying 118 passengers and crew, including 15 children," said Alamsyah, who goes by only one name.

He said search and rescue (SAR) operations will resume early Monday morning.

"We really hope that the 78 passengers can survive, but the chance is really small," he said. "But we will maximize our SAR team tomorrow, including 2 helicopters and one Navy ship that has been deployed from Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi."

The vessel was buffeted by waves reported to be as high as five meters at the time it overturned and sank Saturday.

The Transport Ministry said search and rescue ships have been deployed to look for more survivors.

The ferry was headed from Kolaka to Siwa, towns on Sulawesi island, when it encountered the bad weather.

The vast Indonesian archipelago, consisting of more than 17,000 islands, is heavily dependent on ferry services, but the industry has a poor service record and fatal accidents are common.