39 people drowned in two ferry wrecks in Brazil

Updated 2017-08-25 14:01:40 Xinhua

Two fatal ferry wrecks in Brazil have claimed at least 39 lives as rescue operation continues.

"We deeply regret the loss of tens of lives in the boat accidents in Para and Bahia," two states in the north of the country, President Michel Temer tweeted Thursday.

The latest maritime incident took place earlier Thursday near Salvador, capital of Brazil's eastern state of Bahia, when a ship carrying about 116 passengers and four crew members capsized shortly after its departure at 6:30 p.m. (2130 GMT) local time.

A total of 18 people were drowned, and 89 others were rescued in the afternoon, Bahia's Health Secretariat said.

The death toll has been revised down to 18 from the initial report of 22 as rescue operation went on.

Some passengers swam to shore and others were picked up, said the navy.

Three rescue teams were dispatched to the site before local fire department personnel joined the operation.

More than 30 people were being treated for injuries, the Bahia state health department said in a statement.

The state has declared three days of mourning following the tragedy.

"I have been personally following this difficult operation from an early stage and all measures have been taken immediately," said Bahia Governor Rui Costa.

The accident occurred two days after a tour boat sank on the Xingu River in the northern state of Para overnight Tuesday, leaving at least 21 dead.

Twenty-three people were rescued and five others were still unaccounted for, said the state's Secretariat of Public Security.

The vessel's captain said only 49 people were on board when it sank, though initial reports said it carried as many as 70 passengers.

The cause of the sinking remains unknown.

Survivors said it was raining and a gale tipped the boat over. Military personnel were still engaged in rescue efforts at the site.

The capsized vessel was not legally authorized to transport passengers, authorities said.

Accidents are frequent as a lot of precarious boats are overloaded with passengers on rivers in the Amazon basin. The most common means of transportation in the region depends on waterway.

On Aug. 2, a container ship and several rafts collided on the Amazon river. Nine people were listed missing.

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