MEDELLIN, Colombia – At least nine people are dead and about 28 are missing in the sinking of a tour boat in the Guatape reservoir about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Medellin, Colombia, authorities said.
“Initially, 99 people were rescued immediately, later two groups of 40, and unfortunately so far there is a tragic report of nine people dead and more or less 28 who are reported missing,” the head of the Dapard disaster prevention department in Medellin, Margarita Moncada, told reporters.
She also said that – in contrast to earlier reports putting the number of people on board the boat at 150 – that approximately 170 people were on board, according to the local mayor’s office.
The El Almirante, a boat used for taking tourists on tours of the reservoir, sank shortly after 2:00 pm, reported El Colombiano.
The Antioquia government initially said that preliminary figures indicated 24 people were taken to local hospitals, of whom three died, seven were released, one was sent to another healthcare center and 13 remain under observation.
Authorities said that, due to the initial chaos surrounding the incident, it has been difficult to get a definitive casualty count.
“We’re in full operation, According to the firm (that owns the boat), there were 150 people. (It) didn’t crash into another (boat), but simply sank,” Victoria Eugenia Ramirez, the secretary for the government of Antioquia province, where Guatape is located, told the daily.
The reservoir is very close to Guatape, a municipality offering assorted tourist activities and which on Sunday registered a big inflow of tourists because Monday is a holiday in Colombia.
One of the most popular activities for tourists is to take a boat tour of the emerald green waters of the reservoir. Such vessels offer many services to their customers, including restaurant service.
Firefighters from different towns in eastern Antioquia were dispatched to Guatape to help rescue the survivors of the wreck.