More Than 130 Feared Drowned in Ship Collision
LIMA, Peru (AP) _ A riverboat carrying 209 people, most of them children, smashed into a freighter and sank during the night in the Amazon River. Police said one person died and 134 were missing and feared drowned.
The Andresito sank 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, an hour and and a half after leaving Iquitos, a Peruvian river port 715 miles northeast of Lima, police there said.
The boat’s helmsman told police in Iquitos that the Andresito’s motor failed and vessel began drifting in the Amazon’s fast currents.
In the darkness it smashed into several small boats anchored along the shore. It then careened into a freighter tied to a dock, rolled over and sank in the dark, swirling waters of the Amazon, police said.
Police said 74 people had been rescued by dawn today and that the body of a small girl was found. Heavy rain was hampering rescue boats and divers in their search for survivors and bodies.
Most of the passengers were children, their parents and school teachers who were returning home from Iquitos after school holidays, police said.
They were headed to Puritoyacu, a jungle village on an Amazon tributary three days travel by boat from Iquitos, police said.
The 182-foot riverboat rolled over quickly and sank because it was overloaded with passengers and lumber for building a new school in Puritoyacu, authorities said.
They said the 430-foot, 7,500-ton freighter received minor damage.
It was identified as the Yacu Caspi, a Peruvian-owned vessel that travels the Amazon to the Atlantic and to Caribbean ports. The freighter was tied to a dock when the Andresito smashed into its side.
It had arrived Feb. 28 from Panama with sugar and wheat flour for Iquitos and steel pipes for Occidental Petroleum Corp., which produces oil in jungle fields in the Iquitos area.