Indonesian SAR agency Basarnas reported that out of 178 people on board, 91 have been rescued and three are confirmed dead, MANA correspondent reported.
Search efforts continue and the full extent of the damage to life and property is not yet known.
The Mutiara was under way from Java to Balikpapan, Borneo when a fire broke out on her car deck. The crew made an attempt to put it out with the vessel's sprinkler system but it could not be extinguished. The master ultimately ordered the passengers and crew to abandon ship into the vessel's lifeboats.
The container feeder Meratus Makassar diverted to the scene, and Basarnas' Surabaya station dispatched the response tug SAR 225 to provide further assistance. In an update late Friday, Basarnas said that it had dispatched vessels from three additional SAR stations.
The 1988-built Mutiara Sentosa I (exname Venilia) is an unusual ro/pax design with a loading ramp on her starboard side, forward of the parallel mid-body. She is owned and flagged in Indonesia.