Dozens Of People Still Missing After Tourist Boat Carrying 160 People Sank In Colombia Top News

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Dozens Of People Still Missing After Tourist Boat Carrying 160 People Sank In Colombia Top News

At least six people are dead and dozens of others are missing after a tourist boat carrying about 160 people sank Sunday afternoon in a reservoir near Medellin, Colombia, officials said.

A massive rescue operation continued into the night as firefighters, specialized divers, and Colombian air force troops searched for survivors. Thirty-one people were still unaccounted for Sunday evening, several hours after the multi-story ferry crammed with passengers visiting the popular holiday spot dramatically plunged into the water. About a dozen others are being treated for injuries at a local hospital.

Shocking videos of the incident show the multi-story ferry rocking and submerging into the water as passengers scramble to the top floor. An armada of jet skis and recreational boats then surrounds the boat to help rescue passengers on board.

The exact number of fatalities remains unclear, with officials giving conflicting accounts of how many people had died in the accident. Margarita Moncada, the head of the disaster response agency in Antioquia state, said a preliminary report found that nine people had died and about 140 had either been rescued or managed to swim to shore.

Later Sunday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that six people had died and 122 were saved following the accident. “Nobody really knows what happened,” Santos said in a press conference.

The Administrative Department of Disaster and Risk Management said about a dozen scuba divers, two rescue units, a fire captain, and several firefighters were assisting in rescue efforts. The Colombian air force said on Twitter that it had also sent a helicopter to the scene.

Fire officials told BuzzFeed News that they could not confirm how many people had been hurt in the accident. “We’re taking care of the emergency,” a spokesperson for the Rio Negro Fire Department said. “We can only give information with the authorization of the commander.”

“The most important thing right now is to save lives,” Federico Gutierrez, the mayor of Medellin told the Associated Press. Making matters more complicated, the boat reportedly did not have a passenger list.

It is not clear what caused the boat to suddenly sink. The ferry was the only vessel involved in the accident, government officials said. Survivors told local media that the boat seemed to be overloaded, and that many of the passengers had not been wearing life vests.

“It sank extremely quickly. It all happened in a few minutes,” said Luis Bernardo Morales, a fire service captain helping coordinate the rescue operation.

“What we have seen in the videos is that the boat was very close to the port,” Morales said, “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.”

Gonzalo Reyes, a musician who had been onboard the boat, told Colombia’s Blu Radio that he had been singing on the third floor when he heard a loud bang and the boat turned to the left side.

“That boat was not distributed to accommodate so many people,” Reyes told the news station. “I think there was overcrowding.” He also noted that members of the crew had not been wearing life vests.

This is a developing story. Follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter for udpates

Dozens Of People Still Missing After Tourist Boat Carrying 160 People Sank In Colombia Top News

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Dozens Of People Still Missing After Tourist Boat Carrying 160 People Sank In Colombia Top News

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