Indonesian police and navy have pulled hundreds of survivors from the Indian Ocean after a ferry collided with a cargo ship and sank, the transportation ministry said.

During rescue efforts on Wednesday at least eight bodies were pulled from the waters of the Sunda strait, which connects the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean.

The total number of passengers on the ferry has yet to be determined by search and rescue teams.

A previous ministry figure put the death toll at nine.

The owner of the cargo ship involved in the collision issued a statement identifying the vessel as the Norgas Cathinka.

That statement said the vessel was operated by Norgas Carriers Private Limited of Singapore, a wholly-owned
subsidiary of IM Skaugen, and was registered as a carrier of chemicals and liquefied petroleum gas.

It said that the operators had immediately offered to help in the search and rescue operation and that a company
crisis response team was being sent to the scene.

Ferries are a popular means of transport between the 17,000 islands of Indonesia, where sea connections are
cheaper and more available than air routes.

But safety standards are not strictly enforced and many ferries are overcrowded.