Peruvian authorities have recovered 21 bodies from a ferry that sank in the Amazon River near the border with Colombia, while the number of confirmed survivors stands at 161, an official said.
The Camila, said to have been carrying more than 200 people, sank at around 2.40 a.m. Wednesday near the Indian village of Santa Rosa, located more than 50 km from Iquitos, the capital of Loreto, in the Peruvian Amazon.
The toll climbed after three more bodies were recovered early Friday, while the exact number of missing remains unclear, said the emergency services secretary in Peru's northernmost region of Loreto, Julio Lopez Velasquez.
He said authorities presume that "between 15 and 20 bodies" were still submerged in the rear of the ferry, adding that when the boat was turned over Friday afternoon, a strong odour came from the spot where more corpses were present.
The emergency-services workers have begun draining that part of the stern to recover the bodies.
Authorities had initially said they didn't expect to find any more bodies at the scene, noting that some victims were probably swept away by the powerful Amazon currents.
Citing reports from the Peruvian navy, Lopez Velazquez said that the ferry probably sank due to overloading.
According to the initial investigation, the pilot abruptly turned the ferry when the cargo began to shift and that caused the vessel to capsize.