10 dead, 9 missing after ferryboat sinks in Brazil

Updated on Feb 22, 2008 02:10 AM IST
A ferryboat carrying more than 100 passengers collided with a barge carrying fuel tanks and sank to the bottom of the Amazon River on Thursday, officials said.
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AP | ByStan Lehman, Sao Paulo

A ferryboat carrying more than 100 passengers collided with a barge carrying fuel tanks and sank to the bottom of the Amazon River on Thursday, officials said. At least 10 people died, and another nine were missing and feared dead. The Almirante Monteiro capsized at dawn near the isolated Brazilian town of Itacoatiara in the jungle state of Amazonas, state fire spokesman Lt Clovis Araujo said.

He said 92 people were rescued by several small boats and the state's floating police station, a 32-foot (10-meter) vessel that travels up and down the river and was in the area at the time of the shipwreck.

Rescue teams recovered the bodies of four children, five women and one man, Araujo said. Authorities said a check against the boat's passenger manifest indicated 9 people were still missing. "The chances of finding them alive are remote," he said. "We will keep searching until the last body is found. He said he did not know how many people were on the barge, but "no one was hurt and the barge was not damaged." Many of the missing were likely passengers who were asleep in cabins inside the two-story wooden vessel and were unable to get out before the boat sank, state public safety department spokesman Aguinaldo Rodrigues said.

"As far as we can tell, just about all the survivors were passengers sleeping in hammocks on the deck," Rodrigues said.

Rodrigues said it was too early to determine the causes of the accident, but "visibility was very poor" at the time of the collision during the lunar eclipse that began Wednesday night. The survivors were taken to the small town of Novo Remanso and sheltered in the local church. They were to be taken by helicopter to the state capital of Manaus.

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