Thursday, 30 March, 2023

Over 10 dead, more missing as boat sinks off northern Brazil

Over 10 dead, more missing as boat sinks off northern Brazil

An illegal passenger boat sank Thursday along Brazil's northern coast, killing at least 11 people, officials said, revising an earlier toll.

Officials in Para state said 11 bodies were recovered from the boat, which is designed to carry 82 passengers, while 63 people were rescued alive.

Eight other people are believed to be missing and are being searched for.

Earlier, officials had said 14 were found dead and 26 were missing.

Local media showed images of rescuers using a canoe to bring victims to shore near Belem, the capital of Para state, and bodies laid out on the beach with sheets draped over them.

The boat's owner had recently had another vessel suspended for operating illegally, but continued running this one without authorization, said Para state Governor Helder Barbalho.

"This was a clandestine vessel. The owner had been notified three times by regulators and the navy for operating another boat without a license. That vessel's operations were suspended, but he got hold of another one and continued operating, and this tragedy happened," he said.

"We have been mobilized since we got the news, working to find those who haven't been located yet," he added, saying the state government had set up a crisis team to oversee the search.

He said the authorities would "act firmly" to bring those responsible for the "horrific tragedy" to justice.

"The vessel was not authorized for inter-city passenger transport... and made the journey departing from a clandestine port in the area of Camara," a settlement across the Marajo Bay from Belem, he said.

A police helicopter and 11 rescue boats, two of them carrying specialized divers, were aiding the search effort, it said.