JOHANNESBURG, NOV. 28 -- A South African Airways Boeing 747 jumbo jetliner with 160 people aboard crashed in the Indian Ocean and sank in 12,000-foot-deep waters near Mauritius today after its crew reported smoke in the cockpit.

An intensive air search in an area about 130 miles from Mauritius, where some wreckage was spotted in heavy sea swells, was suspended tonight until daylight. South African officials said all of the passengers and crew were feared dead.

It was the worst airliner disaster in the 53-year history of the state-run carrier. Seventy-seven of the victims were Taiwanese or Japanese, and 70 were South Africans, including the crew of 19.

Airline officials said no Americans were aboard the aircraft, which plunged into the ocean as it approached Mauritius for a refueling stop en route from Taiwan to Johannesburg.

{Included in the death toll was an infant who was not listed on the passenger register, airline officials told The Associated Press.}

Most of the Japanese aboard were reported to be employes of a shipping and fisheries company who were headed to South Africa to replace crewmen on a fishing vessel.

{The pilot, Capt. D. J. Uys, 49, was scheduled to retire after the flight and would have completed a 23-year airline career, United Press International reported.}

Nico Venter, spokesman for South African Airways, said the regularly scheduled flight, SA295, was about 10 minutes from landing in Mauritius when the flight crew reported smoke in the cabin. Civil aviation authorities in Mauritius said the crew radioed that the plane was making an emergency descent to 14,000 feet because of smoke in the cabin and cockpit and had begun an instrument landing approach when contact was lost.

The first sighting of wreckage was by the pilot of a private Beechcraft plane, who told authorities in Mauritius that he had seen small pieces of debris.

South African Transport Minister Eli Louw told reporters at a crisis command post at Johannesburg's Jan Smuts Airport that passengers in another South African Airways jumbo jet carrying investigating officials to Mauritius had also spotted wreckage, including suitcases and an empty rubber life raft.

South African officials said the airliner was a Boeing 747-200B "Combi" outfitted to carry passengers and cargo. They said the plane, which can carry up to 206 passengers, was carrying 63,800 pounds of freight when it crashed.

Venter said the aircraft could not have run out of fuel during the 5,300-mile flight, about 95 percent of which is over water. Mauritius is 2,000 miles east of Johannesburg.

Joining in the search were a French naval ship, military aircraft from the French-governed island of Reunion, a U.S. Navy P3 reconnaissance aircraft from the island of Diego Garcia and planes from South Africa and Mauritius.

South African President Pieter W. Botha tonight went on national television to express his sympathy to relatives of the victims.

{"I feel so guilty. I have sent my best friend to his death," said Yu Wen Su, who learned of the crash in the airline's office in Taipei, Taiwan, AP reported. Yu said he had instructed Lin Wu Hsuing, a technician, to go to Johannesburg to repair a machine his company had sold to a South African firm.}