Two children reported dead as Indonesia ferry drifts in stormy seas

Distressed relatives wait for news of the stricken ferry Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Distressed relatives wait for news of the stricken ferry

Rescuers trying to reach an Indonesian ferry adrift in rough seas have found the bodies of two small children as well as 23 survivors, officials say.

Two ships are searching for the missing vessel, which has more than 100 people on board, the transport ministry said.

Authorities on Sulawesi island said the ship had been hit by high waves and its engine had broken down.

Officials said the last contact from the ship's captain said that water was beginning to enter the vessel.

The ship left Kolaka in south-east Sulawesi province with 118 passengers and crew on Saturday morning local time, officials said, and was bound for the port of Siwa across the Gulf of Boni.

Transport ministry spokesman JA Barata said a distress signal was sent out later in the day saying the ship had "had an accident as a result of large waves".

Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands linked by ferry services, but correspondents say the industry has a poor safety record.

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