At least 6 dead after tourist boat sinks in Colombia; dozens missing

At least 25 people are said to have died after passengers failed to put on their life vests
At least 25 people are said to have died after passengers failed to put on their life vests

26 June, 2017

At least six people died when a boat carrying more than 150 passengers capsized while on a sightseeing tour on a reservoir in northwestern Colombia.

Rescuers including firefighters from nearby cities and air force pilots were searching for survivors at the El Penol reservoir.

Videos on social media showed the party boat rocking back and forth just before it overturned.

The head of disaster relief for Antioquia province, Margarita Moncada, said: At the moment we have nine people found dead.

In a press conference on Sunday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed the number of dead and said that 122 people had been pulled from the water in the wake of the accident.

Next he went to the hospital where he said he saw a baby girl in a wet dress who had been saved but whose mother he was told is missing.

In the absence of a passenger list, authorities have been relying on family numbers and survivors to report their whereabouts.

Luis Bernardo Morales, a fire service captain involved in the rescue, said the boat was very close to the port when it sank.

None of the passengers were wearing life vests.

"Nobody really knows what happened", he said, according to BuzzFeed. They also made a call for scuba divers to assist with the search.

Carlos Espinosa, an independent journalist from Guatape, said about a month ago locals woke to find the El Almirante filled with water and sinking at its dock, suggesting the vessel might not have been ready to return to the water.

As night fell, the usually festive town was silent as people began to register the magnitude of the loss.

The Penol-Guatape reservoir is a popular tourist destination approximately an hour from the central city of Medellín.

"All we ask is that they don't give up the search", said Villegas. It was especially busy on Sunday as Colombians celebrated a long holiday weekend.

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