Rescuers pulled out 39 survivors from a passenger boat that sank in the nation’s central region. The boat was carrying 110 passengers and 12 crew members, including 14 children

MAKASSAR, Indonesia — A boat carrying more than 100 passengers is believed to have had an accident Saturday off the coast of Indonesia’s Sulawesi after encountering rough seas and dispatching a distress signal, according to an official.

Rescuers on Sunday pulled out 39 survivors and three dead from a passenger boat that sank in central Indonesia after being buffeted by high waves, and battled bad weather to try to reach scores of others still missing.

The fiberglass ferry was on its way from Kolaka in Southeast Sulawesi province crossing the Gulf of Bone to Siwa town when it was overwhelmed by waves more than 10 feet) high during stormy weather Saturday, said Roki Asikin, head of the search and rescue agency in Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi.

The boat was carrying 110 passengers and 12 crew members, Asikin said. The passengers included 14 children.

Six rescue boats and ships were dispatched after they received a distress call from the crew, who reported that the vessel was starting to take on water about 21 kilometers (13 miles) southeast of Siwa port, Asikin said.

Rescue leader Roki Asikin said the waves meant it took another three hours to evacuate some survivors to shore.

Anxious relatives waited at Siwa port for news of loved ones.

Indonesian relatives check the passengers board of a capsized ferry at a crisis center in Siwa, Wajo, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, 20 December 2015. (AAP)

Indonesian relatives check the passengers board of a capsized ferry at a crisis center in Siwa, Wajo, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, 20 December 2015. (AAP)

Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands linked by ferry services, but correspondents say the industry has a poor safety record.

Fishermen found four people who had been on the boat, including a woman and a child. They told authorities that the boat sank hours after being hit by high waves.

Thirty-five other survivors and three bodies were found later Sunday, said Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Barata. He said all of the survivors were taken to hospitals.

The search for the 80 people still missing was called off at nightfall Sunday and will resume Monday morning.

Indonesian relatives check the passengers board of a capsized ferry at a crisis center in Siwa, Wajo, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, 20 December 2015. (AAP)

Indonesian relatives check the passengers board of a capsized ferry at a crisis center in Siwa, Wajo, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, 20 December 2015. (AAP)