At Least 9 DEAD, 30 Missing… Here’s What We Know [VIDEO]

Dean James AMERICA’S FREEDOM FIGHTERS –

At least nine people have died and at least  30 others are missing after a tourist ferry-boat carrying about 170 passengers for the holiday weekend sank in a reservoir in north-west Colombia, near the city of Medellín, officials have said.

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Rescuers including firefighters from nearby cities and air force pilots were searching for survivors at the Guatape reservoir where the four-story El Almirante ferry sank, according to several reports.

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A flotilla of recreational boats and jet skis rushed to the scene, pulling people from the boat as it went down and avoiding an even deadlier tragedy.

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The Guardian reports that Margarita Moncada, a local rescue official, confirmed the death toll. Jorge Hernando Nieto, Colombia’s national police chief, told local radio that at least 30 people had been reported missing in the accident, which was on the on the Guatapé-El Peñol reservoir.

Authorities did not immediately confirm how many people had been rescued but the injured were being treated in the local hospital. Colombian air force helicopters were dispatched and stood ready to evacuate the most seriously injured.

Videos circulating on social media showed panicked passengers running to the top deck of the multi-story ferry as it sank. Other recreational vessels rushed to the distressed boat, which was reportedly loaded to capacity as holidaymakers took advantage of a long weekend.

Article continues below videos.

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Witnesses told the El Tiempo newspaper that the boat, named El Almirante – the Admiral – broke in two and that the captain told all the passengers to move to one side of the vessel.

Rescued passengers said they had not been provided with life vests when they boarded the vessel.

Two residents of Guatapé told Blu Radio that the same boat had sunk about three months ago when it was tied at the dock. “They fixed it and it kept working normally,” one of the residents told the radio network.

The city of Medellín and the Colombian Red Cross sent rescue crews to the area. It was unclear if any foreigners were on the vessel.

It’s unclear what caused the boat to sink but survivors said that it appeared to be overloaded and nobody on board was wearing a life vest.

Daniel Giraldo, owner of an Italian restaurant in Guatape, said he went to the bay after hearing the sound of ambulances. When he got to the shore people told him the ship had gone under.

“It sank in a matter of four minutes,” he said.

Next he went to the hospital where he said he saw a baby girl in a wet dress who had been saved but whose mother he was told is missing.

Guatapé is a popular holiday spot for Colombian and foreign tourists attracted by water sports on the reservoir and rock climbing on the El Peñol rock face.

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