Rescue workers search for at least 26 missing people after a motorboat capsized off the coast of Indonesia.

Authorities said the accident may have been caused by a fuel shortage and bad weather.
Authorities said the accident may have been caused by a fuel shortage and bad weather. (Reuters Archive)

Indonesian rescue teams have been looking for 26 people missing after a boat with 43 people on board capsized off Sulawesi island.

The motorboat that had left Paotere port in Makassar, capital of South Sulawesi province, on Thursday was reported missing the next day when it failed to arrive to its destination, local media reported.

Rescued passengers were picked up by tugboats and taken to Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan and Jeneponto in South Sulawesi, South Sulawesi search and rescue agency chief Djunaidi said on Saturday.

Authorities said they think the accident was caused by a fuel shortage and bad weather.

"We have confirmation that the boat had sunk in the search area," Djunaidi said. "We received information saying that 17 people were found and saved by passing tugboats."

READ MORE: Landmark bill against sexual violence gets Indonesia parliament nod

Lax safety standards

Indonesia's weather agency had warned on Thursday of waves up to 2.5 metres in Makassar strait areas and that could cause safety risks.

A group of 40 rescuers were at sea searching for survivors, Djunaidi added.

Marine accidents are common in Indonesia, a Southeast Asian archipelago of around 17,000 islands where safety standards are often lax.

Last week a ferry carrying more than 800 people ran aground in shallow waters off East Nusa Tenggara province and remained stuck for two days before being dislodged. No one was hurt.

In 2018 more than 150 people drowned when a ferry sank in one of the world's deepest lakes on Sumatra island.

READ MORE: The good, the bad and the ugly of Indonesia’s palm oil ban

Source: TRTWorld and agencies