Up to 250 killed after ferry capsizes in storm

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Around 250 people were feared drowned after a ferry capsized in a severe storm in central Indonesia yesterday.

Eighteen survivors were rescued by fishing boats, but the fate of the others remained unclear, said a port official at Parepare on the island of Sulawesi, where the ferry began its journey.

About 250 passengers and 17 crew are believed to have been on board when it went down 30 miles off western Sulawesi. The Transport Minister Jusman Syafi'i Djamal said the captain – who was pulled alive from the sea – reported that 150 people jumped off the boat before it sank, but he did not know what happened to them.

"We have prepared a search and rescue operation, but high waves are hampering the process," Mr Djamal said. The 700-tonne Teratai Prima sank en route from Parepare to Samarinda, East Kalimantan, on the Indonesian half of Borneo. The ship radioed that it was "hit by a storm" before it went down.