24 people missing as boat sinks in rough seas off Indonesia's Papua

JAKARTA (AFP) - Twenty-four people are missing after their small wooden boat capsized in rough seas during a night-time voyage in remote eastern Indonesia, a rescue official said Friday.

Six people were rescued alive after the motorboat carrying 30 Indonesians was hit by huge waves as it travelled from Yapen island in Papua province to the mainland.

"Six people were rescued alive but 24 are still missing," said local search and rescue agency chief Marsudi, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

He said rescuers were still searching for those missing but added hopes were slim of finding them alive as the accident happened on Tuesday.

The boat capsized at around 1:00 am (12:00 noon Monday) and six people were found floating in the sea alive in the morning.

Indonesia's 250 million people are spread across more than 17,000 islands and are heavily dependent on boats for transport, but the country has a poor maritime safety record.