The search and rescue force is searching for victims (Source: EPA/VNA)

Jakarta (VNA) – Indonesian authorities said on January 1 that the fire of the Zahro Express ferry in the waters off North Jakarta in the morning of the first day of the New Year was likely be triggered by fire from its engine.

The fire killed at least 23 people and injured 32, who have been moved to hospitals in North Jakarta.

Officials at the local rescue and firefighting agency said a cloud of smoke appeared in the cabin area and then spread to the whole ferry.

Meanwhile, a witness said fire appeared on the ferry only 15 minutes after it left the Muara Angke port, north of Jakarta.

The police arrested the captain to interrogate the number of passengers listed as well as the legitimacy of the ferry.

Zahro Express, partly made of wood and capable of carrying 200 passengers. At the time of fire, the ferry was carrying 248 people, according to Jakarta’s search and rescue agency.

With more than 17,000 islands, ferries and vessels are common transport vehicles in Indonesia but loose safety regulations have led to many waterway accidents.-VNA