Nine killed, 31 missing after tourist boat sinks in Colombia

Nine killed, 31 missing after tourist boat sinks in Colombia”

Rescue workers searched on Monday for as many as 16 people believed to be missing after a tourist boat sank the previous day in a reservoir in north-central Colombia, killing six people.

Dramatic videos on social media show the turquoise and yellow-trimmed party boat rocking back and forth as people crawled down from a fourth-floor roof as it sank in a matter of minutes.

Margarita Moncada of a local disaster response agency, said that 99 people were rescued and another 40 were able to swim to shore.

There were about 170 people on board.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who travelled to the scene on Sunday evening, said six people had been killed, revising down an initial death toll of nine given by officials. Complicating the search, there was no passenger list.

"We started to feel like the boat was going to capsize", said the woman, who appeared on television but was not identified. "What we have seen in the videos is that the boat was very close to the port. and we do not know whether it was a mechanical failure, an overloading or something to do with the currents that caused it to sink". None of the passengers were wearing a life vest.

Carlos Espinosa, an independent journalist from Guatape, said a few months ago townspeople awoke to find the El Almirante filled with water and sinking at its dock, suggesting that perhaps the vessel wasn't ready to return to the water. The Antioquia regional government said on Twitter that 24 people caught in the wreck were being treated in hospital.

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

Authorities did not immediately say how many people had been rescued or were missing.

The Penol-Guatape reservoir is a popular tourist destination approximately an hour from the central city of Medellín. It was especially busy on Sunday as Colombians celebrated a long holiday weekend.

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