Published: Mon, June 26, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Nine killed, 31 missing after tourist boat sinks in Colombia

Nine killed, 31 missing after tourist boat sinks in Colombia

A tourist boat packed with about 160 passengers for the holiday weekend capsized Sunday on a reservoir near the Colombian city of Medellin, leaving at least six people dead and 31 missing, officials said.

Authorities did not yet say what caused the four-deck Almirante to go down in the El Penol reservoir in the tourist town of Guatape yesterday, where Colombian and foreign tourists take leisure cruises.

Videos on social media have been circulating that show panicking passengers attempting to run up to a higher level on the boat as it sank.

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Luis Bernardo Morales, a fire service captain, said it was not yet clear whether mechanical failure, overloading or adverse currents caused the boat to sink.

Since there was no passenger manifest listing who was on the boat, so authorities are working with survivors and family members to determine the identities of those on board.

Overnight the number of people missing was reduced to 15, down from twice the initial amount.

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Local media has reported interviews with survivors who claimed that the boat, named El Almirante (The Admiral), appeared to be overloaded.

Laura Baquero, who survived the accident, told television crews that the two lower decks were "too crowded" and the passengers were not wearing lifejackets.

"Nobody really knows what happened", said Mr Santos, adding that naval officials were brought in to carry out an investigation.

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The regional government said 24 people were hospitalised. Guatape fills with tourists on long weekends like this one, since Monday is a holiday in Colombia. But local residents said the boat partially sank three months ago. Among those huddled under the rain near the port looking for information about loved ones was Alberto Villegas, who was separated from a cousin and uncle in the mad rush to abandon the sinking ship.

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