"Three of the victims were found dead this morning. They have been evacuated from the scene to Banggai City," an official of the Banggai Laut local disaster mitigation agency (BPBD) stated when contacted here on Saturday.
As many as 126 survivors, including 11 crewmen, have been treated at the Banggai Hospital, and the identification process for the dead victims is still underway.
The skipper Andi Sulistiyono is still being interrogated by the Banggai police. Sulistiyono was reportedly in a state of shock after knowing that his wife was one of the victims of the incident.
KM Fungka Permata V, en route from Baubau, Southeast Sulawesi, to Taliabu, North Maluku, was carrying 146 passengers, with 12 crewmen, but only 91 passengers were listed in the manifest.
At least eight passengers are still missing.
The rescue team had earlier reported that 10 passengers were found dead and 126 passengers managed to grab life buoys and other floating materials to keep themselves afloat and safe before rescuers arrived.
According to the crewmen, the fire broke out at mid-day Friday after the engine suddenly heated up, as the water coolant could not flow. The vessels finally sank in the sea off the island of Tagong Sagu, sub-district of Bangkurung of the Banggai Laut District.
Report about the incident was received in Banggai at around 4 p.m. local time and the rescue team arrived on the spot only at 5 p.m. local time.
The rescuers also included military and police officers as well as personnel from BPBD.
Reporting by Rolex Malaha
Editing by Sri Hariyati, Otniel