Hanoi (VNA) - A cargo ship with 24 sailors on board is missing after vanishing in waters off Indonesia’s remote Maluku islands, according to local authorities.

The vessel, carrying nickel ore, was traveling from Halmahera island to Sulawesi island when it sent a distress call shortly before losing radio contact last week.

Local search and rescue chief Muslimin Samaila said rough seas hampered earlier efforts to reach the remote area of the vast archipelago where the ship was last detected.

There was no sign of the boat or its crew, he said, adding that its whereabouts are a mystery.

The Southeast Asian nation of more than 17,000 islands is heavily dependent on boat transport, but safety standards are lax and fatal maritime accidents are common.

On August 23, three people were killed when a vessel caught fire.

In June, 21 people died when an overloaded ferry sank in rough seas off Java’s north coast.

Some 160 people drowned when an Indonesian ferry sank into the depths of one of the world’s deepest lakes on Sumatra island last year.-VNA