Sulawesi, Indonesia. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Sulawesi, Indonesia. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A ferry caught fire and sank in Indonesia on Saturday, killing 13 people, with eight people still missing, officials said. According to a spokesman from the Directorate General of Sea Transportation, Gus Rional, the Fungka Permata V left the port of Bau-Bau in Southeast Sulawesi province on a 520-kilometer trip to Sanana port in North Maluku when the vessel caught fire in waters off Banggai Regency, Kyodo News reported.

The ship sank at around 4:45pm but help did not arrive until around 7:30pm. A total of 126 passengers were rescued despite high waves.

Two of the 13 fatalities were toddlers and most of the rescued passengers were found to be wearing life vests.

The vessel was reportedly operating illegally and had no passenger manifest, AFP reported. Life vests were minimal as well.

Indonesia is a nation of more than 17,000 islands and it relies heavily on water transportation. However, safety standards are often lax and fatal accidents not unusual.