Rescuers were searching today for a missing 2-year-old boy after a packed ferry caught fire and sank in eastern Indonesia, killing at least eight people, an official said.
Most of the 77 on board the wooden boat were Muslims travelling home to celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan, said Eddy Paays, head of the local search and rescue agency.
Panicked passengers started jumping into the sea after the fire broke out in the engine as the boat travelled on Friday between two coastal villages in the Maluku islands, he said, adding that fisherman helped pluck many from the sea.
Rescue workers continued to search for a missing toddler near the fishing village of Salahutu, about 1,600 miles east of the capital, Jakarta, he said.
At least eight people were killed in the accident and 35 others were being treated at a hospital for burn injuries, Paays said.
Ferries and passenger boats are a major form of transportation in Indonesia, a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands with a population of 220 million. Overcrowding and poorly enforced safety standards mean accidents are common.