So far only 33 of the passengers, many of them from the Middle East, have been rescued, Indonesian media report.
Police blamed yesterday’s accident on overloading, telling the official news agency Antara that the vessel appeared to have been carrying more than twice its capacity.
One of the survivors, Esmat Adine, said the ship started rocking from side to side, triggering widespread panic.
Because people were so tightly packed, they had nowhere to go, said the 24-year-old Afghan migrant.
“That made the boat even more unstable and eventually it sank,” he said.
Mr Adine said that he and others survived by clinging to parts of the broken vessel until they were picked up by local fishermen.
Indonesia has more than 18,000 islands and thousands of kilometres of unpatrolled coastline, making it a key transit point for smuggling migrants.
Those on board – apparently heading to Australia – were from Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
The private television station Metro TV reported that 33 people had been found alive and that perhaps 215 others were still missing.
Last month a ship carrying about 70 asylum-seekers from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan capsized off the southern coast of Central Java; at least eight people died.