Monday, May 5, 2008

15 dead after boat sinks in Brazil's Amazon region

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) — A boat ferrying at least 80 people home from a party sank in Brazil's Amazon region early Sunday, killing at least 15 and leaving dozens missing, according to rescue officials and Brazil's government.

The wooden Comandante Sales ferryboat capsized in a pre-dawn rainstorm on the Solimoes River, one of the Amazon's largest tributaries, said Fire Lt. Col. Raimundo Rodrigues da Silva.

It was unclear how many passengers the Comandante Sales was authorized to carry, but authorities said the ferry had been grounded several months ago after failing an inspection. Boats serve as buses in the area because there are few roads.

Rescue workers had recovered the bodies of 15 people by Sunday evening when the search was called off for the night, according to Agencia Brasil, the government's official news agency. Most of those who died were women, and several dozen other people were unaccounted for, Silva said.

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