All but one on board Indonesian ferry reported safe
JAKARTA, Apr 18 (Reuters) All but one person on an Indonesian ferry that sank in eastern Indonesian waters are safe, a search and rescue official told Reuters today.
Slamet Riyadi also said by telephone that there were just 66 people on the ferry -- 60 passengers and six crew -- and not around 100 as officials had feared earlier.
''Just one passenger has yet to be found,'' he said.
The Indonesian navy had dispatched one ship and an airplane to search for the boat which ran into problems late yesterday near Rote Island, 1,900 km east of the capital Jakarta.
It is often difficult to determine how many passengers are aboard Indonesian ferries, since they frequently carry individuals who have not paid for tickets or are not listed on manifests.
A ferry sank in heavy seas in the same area less than three months ago, killing at least 10 people. More than 100 were rescued.
Ferries are a popular means of transport between the more than 17,000 islands of Indonesia, where sea connections are cheaper and more available than air routes.
But safety standards are not strictly enforced and many ferries are overcrowded.
REUTERS OM PC1605