January 19, 2019

Recreational boat with 150 aboard sinks near Colombian city

26 June 2017, 04:09 | Marion Schneider

"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", said Morales, the fire captain.

President Juan Manuel Santos has arrived at the Guatape reservoir in Colombia where a tourist boat capsized and said that 122 people were either rescued or found their way to shore.

Authorities are working together to search for survivors at the Guatape reservoir where the ferry sank.

A search and rescue operation is on for the missing passengers of the boat, emblazoned with the name El Almirante, that was carrying 170 people on board. A flotilla of recreational boats and jet skis had rushed to the scene, pulling people from the boat as it went down and avoiding an even deadlier tragedy. It also showed the people attempting to crawl down from the fourth-floor roof when the ferry began sinking in the water.

"Those on the first and second floors sank immediately", a female survivor who wasn't identified by name told Teleantioquia. The rescue operation includes the Interior Ministry, air force, army and police. "The boat was sinking and all we could do was scream and call for help".

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Earlier, Margarita Moncada, the head of the disaster response agency in Antioquia state, had said that according to a preliminary nine people had been killed and around 28 were missing.

Local media has reported interviews with survivors who claimed that the boat, named El Almirante (The Admiral), appeared to be overloaded. None of the passengers was wearing a life vest.

The reservoir surrounding the soaring rocky outcrop of El Penol is a popular weekend destination a little more than an hour from Medellin.

The scale of the accident led to the mobilization of Colombia's armed forces, Victoria Eugenia Ramirez, secretary of the government of Antioquia, told the media. Guatape fills with tourists on long weekends like this one, since Monday is a holiday in Colombia.

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