The KM Sirimau has been stranded for two days with 784 passengers and 55 crew members on board after being stranded during a 184 km crossing in the province of the Lesser Sunda Islands (in Indonesian Nusa Tenggara East).

As the ferry does not appear to be about to sink, the rescue operation has so far consisted of trying to free it to allow it to continue its journey without carrying out evacuations.

But efforts to dislodge the stuck ferry using a tugboat have so far failed, Maumere town search and rescue chief Mr Sudayana told Kompas TV.

The authorities are waiting for a tug sent by the public shipping company PT Pelni to arrive in the area on Thursday, and if these new attempts end in failure, all passengers will be evacuated, said Mr. Sudayana.

“Towing can only take place at rising tide,” he added.

All passengers are doing well, he said.

Accidents at sea are frequent in Indonesia, an archipelago with more than 17,000 islands, whose population relies on ferries and other boats for travel despite insufficient safety standards.

In 2018, some 160 people perished when a ferry sank in one of the world’s deepest lakes on the island of Sumatra.

More than 300 people drowned in the sinking of a ferry between Sulawesi and Borneo in 2009.