June 20 (UPI) — Nearly 200 people are missing in Indonesia after a ferry they were riding on sank over the weekend, authorities said.
The wooden vessel, overcrowded at five times its capacity, sank on Lake Toba in Sumatra Sunday. It was only equipped with 45 life jackets, officials said.
So far, only 18 people have been found alive and the bodies of three have been recovered.
Many of the passengers were celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Fajar Alamsyah Putra told BBC News his brother is among the missing passengers.
“This is a test from God for our family,” Putra said. “He was inside the ferry when the ship sank and could not get out, the ferry quickly capsized.”
Authorities say the ferry did not have a passenger manifest, making it difficult to determine exactly who was aboard.
Divers and an underwater drone joined the search Wednesday at the 1,500-foot deep lake.
Passenger Rudi Wibowo told CNN he was on the boat with nine friends — all of whom he saw drown.
“When the boat started to list I jumped into the water and swam as far away as I could,” Wibowo said, adding most of those who survived were outside of the main cabin in the front deck.
“The passengers inside were unable to break the windows and escape,” he added.
Authorities said passengers were forced to choose between trying to protect their children by staying on the boat or jumping out. Many of the passengers couldn’t swim.
Lake Toba, a popular tourist destination, is the largest crater lake in the world and spans some 440 square miles.