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Death toll in sinking of Colombian tourist boat rises to 7

Posted June 25
Updated June 27

The Colombian Air Force, Army, firefighters and divers combed the waters of a man-made lake in the resort town of Guatape on Monday, looking for survivors after a tourist boat sank the day before.

Colombian emergency officials announced the death toll had risen to seven, but added that only two people remain missing. Dozens were unaccounted for after the boat first went down.

158 people have been rescued, authorities said. Previous estimates put the total number of people on board the boat at about 170.

The incident happened about 45 kilometers (28 miles) east of Medellin, one of Colombia's biggest cities.

The search for the missing continued Monday after thunderstorms forced rescue teams off the water last night. Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos said the search would resume at first light.

Hunt for survivors, answers

The boat, emblazoned with the name El Almirante, started taking on water while transporting passengers in the reservoir by Guatape.

Video on social media shows the multitiered tour boat tilt from one side to the other before the lower decks submerge.

Visiting the scene Sunday night, President Santos said the focus was on rescuing survivors, and that questions about why the boat sank would come later.

"At the moment, we have no information to establish why it sank," Santos said.

The Colombian leader said that, based on information provided to him, the boat wasn't overcrowded.

Lorena Salazar, a survivor of the incident, told CNN affiliate CableNoticias that there were no life vests on board the tourist vessel.

Call to honor victims

Local officials in Guatape invited people to honor the victims by bringing a light to the town's famous Sembradora de Sue-os ("the Dream Planter") statue, which is located by the water.

By early Monday evening, mourners were already leaving flowers and signs in memory of the victims.


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