Recreational boat with 150 aboard sinks near Colombian city


Nine people are dead and about 28 missing after a multi-storey tourist boat packed with about 150 passengers for the holiday weekend capsized on a Colombian reservoir. The rescue operation includes the Interior Ministry, air force, army and police. Quick thinking by those on the scene helped avoid an even higher body count as the boat sank in just a matter of minutes.

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

Fire service captain Luis Bernardo Morales, who was involved in the rescue effort, said: "It sank extremely quickly".

"We saw things flying off the side of the boat", witness Louisa Murphy told the BBC.

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.

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Eduardo Rivera, director of a hospital in Guatapé, told Colombian news publication Teleantioquia that three people had been confirmed dead.

"We were taking photos, seeing that it was a very lovely day when from one moment to another we felt a very strong rumble", Jose Gilberto Villegas, a survivor of the tragic incident, said, adding "the left part was broken and it was when the ship began to sink towards the left side".

He said naval experts had come to investigate the cause and divers would continue searching for people all night.

The President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, tweeted: "Faced with emergency in Guatape @FuerzaAereaCol and relief agencies take care of the situation". Survivors also told local media that the ferry boat seemed to be overloaded and that numerous passengers had not been wearing life vests.

Guatape is popular with tourists, particularly on long weekends such as this one.