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By Telly Nathalia
JAKARTA (Reuters) - An overloaded ferry sank in bad weather off Indonesia's Riau islands on Sunday, killing 29 people, while 245 passengers survived the accident, officials said.
Rustam Pakaya, a Health Ministry official, said 17 people were still missing. A total of 291 people were on board, including 13 crew, he said.
Earlier, a Transport Ministry official told a news conference in Jakarta that the ferry, which had the capacity to carry 273 people, had 213 passengers on its manifest.
"The disparity between the manifest and reality is large, it's such a classic case" of breaking the regulations, said Sunaryo, director general of sea transportation, adding that bad weather and six-metre waves were hampering the search and rescue efforts.
The ferry, the Dumai Express 10, was sailing from Batam near Singapore to Dumai, a port in Riau, when it ran into massive waves, Riau police chief Puji Hartanto told Metro TV.
Survivors were spotted floating at sea, Hartanto said.
Separately, another ferry, the Dumai Express 15 with 278 people on board, ran aground after it was hit by large waves, said Riau police spokesman Yasin Kosasih.
All passengers and crew survived, he added. The ferry was travelling between Batam and Moro island.
Indonesia relies heavily on ferry services to connect the many islands in the sprawling archipelago.
But accidents are common, largely due to years of under-investment in infrastructure and a tendency to overload ferries.
(Additional reporting by Karima Anjani; Writing by Sara Webb; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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Reuters