Dozens of tourists missing after boat sinks in Colombia

Dozens of tourists missing after boat sinks in Colombia

Nine people were dead and 28 missing after a tourist ferry packed with around 170 passengers for the holiday weekend capsized Sunday on a reservoir near the Colombian city of Medellin, officials said.

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

Survivors described hearing a loud explosion near the men's toilet that knocked out power a few minutes after the boat began its cruise around the giant lake. Authorities were also unsure if all the people reported to be on the boat had actually been on board, she added.

While it was not immediately clear what caused the ferry to sink, survivors told local media that the vessel seemed overcrowded and that numerous passengers had not strapped on their life vests.

Colombian officials originally said nine people had died, but later lowered the figure to six.

A group of 25 scuba divers had to suspend their search overnight due to a lightning storm.

Some people who witnessed the tragedy from the shore said the boat appeared to be overloaded but Mr Santos said it was sailing well below capacity.

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President Juan Manuel Santos visited rescue crews at the reservoir, about an hour's drive from the city of Medellin, on Sunday night.

None of the passengers were wearing life vests.

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. The Antioquia regional government said on Twitter that 24 people caught in the wreck were being treated in hospital.

Boat sunk in Penol reservoir, #Columbia.

It is a long holiday weekend in the Andean country and the reservoir is a well-known destination for families.

"All we ask is that they don't give up the search", said Villegas.

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