A search for the missing continue​s (Source: AP)

Jakarta (VNA) - The captain of a tourist ferry that caught fire on January 1, leaving 40 people dead or missing in Indonesia, was arrested on January 3 on charge of negligence.

The Zahro Express was carrying at least 247 people from Muara Angke port in northern Jakarta to Tidung, a resort island, 50 km from Ancol coast, when it caught fire. Most of the passengers were Indonesians.

A total of 224 passengers were rescued, and 23 bodies were recovered. Seventeen others are still missing.

The vessel's captain Mohamad Nali was arrested for questioning following the incident, including accusation of negligence of passenger overload on the ferry, Jakarta Maritime Police chief Colonel Hero Hendrianto Bachtiar said.

Nali, 51, could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

The chief of the Muara Angke port authority has also been dismissed for alleged negligence in overseeing the voyage.

A search for the missing continued on January 3, but officials have not ruled out that those reported missing could be among 20 unidentified bodies found inside the ship.

The cause of the fire is still not clear, but authorities suspect that it was caused by a short circuit in the engine room.-VNA