At least six people have died and around ten are missing after a ferry they were travelling in capsized in eastern Sri Lanka on Tuesday, officials said.

Police spokesman Nihal Thalduwa said the ferry was carrying mostly students and teachers to a school across a lagoon in the town of Kinniya when it capsized around 0730 local time.

Villagers, police and the navy managed to save 20 people, half of them children and rushed them to the nearby hospital.

Thalduwa confirmed six people, including four schoolchildren, were among the dead. The ferry was carrying as many as 35 people.

“The cause for the capsizing has not been identified yet,” he said.

Eight navy teams, including divers, had been looking for the remaining missing people, but the search has now been called off, Thalduwa added.