Twelve dead, 15 missing in Brazil boat accident

April 20, 2013 - 8:29:58 am
RIO DE JANEIRO: At least 12 people died and around 15 were missing Friday after a boat capsized in the Ariri river in the Brazilian Amazon, firefighters said in a revised toll, as an investigation got under way.

"Twelve bodies, including those of children, have now been recovered," Colonel Carlos Alberto Moreira Reis told AFP by telephone.

"The boat had more than 70 people aboard 41 of them were found alive, including nine who were hospitalized," he said.

Earlier in the day, he gave a toll of four dead and 25 unaccounted for.

Reis said the captain of the boat, identified as Luis Inacio Lima, initially "lied and said there were only 49 passengers aboard," before later admitting that there were in fact more passengers than the maximum capacity allowed.

"I was at the helm when the boat capsized. I did not hit anything. I cannot understand what happened.

It was so fast," the G1 website quoted the captain as saying.

The boat sailed from the town of Chaves on Marajo island for a 10-hour journey to Belem, the capital of the northern state of Para, according to Reis, who said the accident occurred as most of the passengers were asleep.

Two helicopters, six divers and a ship are taking part in rescue operations, the official said. An investigation is expected to last up to 90 days. (AFP)