At least 34 people have been confirmed dead after the ferry 'KM Lestari Maju' sank off the coast off Bulukumba, South Indonesia, on Tuesday, early afternoon.
The ship, carrying 139 people onboard, was heading to Selayar island, but sank about 300 meters from shore due to inclement weather at 2:30 pm. In a bid to save the lives of the people onboard, the Captain was said to have deliberately grounded the sinking ferry in shallow waters.
Images released in international media depict passengers in life vests clinging to the side of the vessel, as it tilted into the water not far from the coast. Reportedly 155 people managed to swim to shore or were picked by search and rescue authorities and local fishing vessels.
Heavy weather impeded the rescue operation, as larger vessels were incapable of approaching the scene.
In addition to the passengers, the vessel was carrying 48 cars and motorcycles which were seen floating on the aftermath of the sinking.
The exact cause of the incident is yet to be clarified, however Indonesia's state news agency's Antara reported that a leak caused the ferry to flood.
The incident came only few weeks after another ferry sank in Lake Toba, in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province, leaving almost 200 people dead in one of the country's worst maritime casualties.