JAKARTA: Four people were killed and another 292 were plucked to safety after a ferry sank in heavy seas off Indonesia’s Sumatra island today, a maritime official said.

Sea transport director-general Sunaryo said the numbers were based on reports from senior officials on Karimun island near Singapore, close to where the ferry went down.

“From the Karimun mayor, 292 people are reported safe and four are dead,” he told reporters in Jakarta.

He said the ship’s capacity was only 273 passengers and an investigation was underway to determine if overloading contributed to the accident. “If it was overloaded that’s against the rules and we won’t tolerate that,” he said.

“We will investigate if the ferry was fit to sail and if its documents were complete. We’ll also check whether the ship’s captain and port master went ahead despite the bad weather or if the weather changed.” Indonesia’s 234 million people are spread across 17,000 islands and are heavily dependent on a network of ships and boats, which have a poor safety record.

Up to 335 people were killed when a heavily overloaded ferry sank off Sulawesi island in January.