updated 4/18/2006 5:07:29 AM ET 2006-04-18T09:07:29

A ferry carrying 60 people sank in bad weather in eastern Indonesia, and nearly all were rescued or swam to shore, officials said Tuesday.

The boat went down late Monday near Rote island, about 1,200 miles east of the capital Jakarta, said Piter Fina, head of the region’s main port on the Indonesian side of Timor island.

The captain told authorities it was carrying 54 passengers and six crew, Fina said. By mid-afternoon, 59 people had either been picked up by rescue vessels or managed to swim ashore, he said.

Like many boats in remote corners of Indonesia, the ferry did not keep a passenger manifest.

Ship accidents are common in Indonesia, a vast archipelago where boat travel is the only way to reach many islands. Safety measures are poorly enforced, and many crafts lack enough life jackets and other safety equipment.

In March, about 40 people drowned when a ferry sunk near Rote. More than 100 were rescued by passing ships.

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