Seven killed as fire engulfs ferry

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Rescuers carry a ferry fire survivor at port in Merak, Indonesia (AP)

A crowded ferry has caught fire in Indonesia, killing at least seven people and sending panicked passengers jumping into the sea, officials said.

Bambang Ervan, a spokesman for the Transportation Ministry, said more than 100 people had been safely evacuated but, hours after the accident, dozens were still trapped inside.

Their condition is not known.

The fire broke out in the early hours, soon after the ferry carrying around 200 people left Merak port on Java island on its way to neighbouring Sumatra, he said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the blaze.

Ferries are a main source of transportation in Indonesia, an archipelago nation with more than 17,000 islands and 235 million people.

Accidents are common due to overcrowding and poor safety standards.

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