One dead, 60 missing as Indon ferry sinks

Around 60 passengers are missing after a ferry sank on Indonesia's Lake Toba, casting a tragic pall over holidays marking the end of the Muslim holy month.

Local police chief Marudut Liberty Panjaitan said 18 people had been rescued and one death confirmed.

"Due to bad weather and high waves, the ferry lost control. We suspect (the accident) was due to the breaking of the rudder," head of the Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) for North Sumatra, Riadil Lubis told EFE.

Rescue operations had to be halted two hours after the accident owing to bad weather and could only be resumed on Tuesday morning.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Twitter that initial estimates were that 80 people were on board but there was no passenger manifest and the number may range from 70 to 130.

The authorities were unable to determine the exact number of passengers missing as yet as it is common practice for boats to overload.

Last week, at least 16 people died when another boat had sank near the southern coast of Celebes in the central region of the archipelago.

Indonesia records more accidents during the holiday period following the month of Ramadan when millions of people travel around the country putting pressure on the precarious infrastructure.

Ferries are a major means of transport in the Indonesian archipelago, that comprises more than 17,000 islands, and are often overloaded much beyond capacity with passenger and goods.

Australian Associated Press