<!--:es-->Ecuadoran boat sinks off Colombia killing 104<!--:-->

Ecuadoran boat sinks off Colombia killing 104

Ecuadoran boat sinks off Colombia killing 104

QUITO – One-hundred-four people drowned when an Ecuadoran motorboat carrying illegal migrants sank in the Pacific Ocean off Colombia, officials said.

The boat was headed for Central America, carrying 113 people hoping to enter the United States illegally, said Armando Elizalde, captain of the Ecuadoran port of Manta.

A fishing boat reported rescuing nine people, seven men and two women, found clinging to a crate and buoys in waters off Colombia on Sunday, Elizalde said.

«We are waiting for the survivors to find out what happened,» he said.

From Bogota, the Colombian navy described the boat as a motorboat with a capacity to carry 15.

It said the boat sank Friday 194 kilometers (120 miles) from Colombia’s Malpelo Island, which lies hundreds of kilometers (miles) from the coast.

«The Naval Force of the Pacific received a report of the sinking of an Ecuadoran motorboat which set sail without authorization from the Ecuadoran port of Manta,» a Colombian navy statement said.

The boat was carrying more than 100 people «who left the country illegally and manned this boat even though it had a capacity of 15 people,» the statement said.

A Colombian airplane and patrol boat are searching for bodies. An Ecuadoran frigate and helicopter have also been dispatched.

Elizalde said it was «very unlikely» any more survivors would be found.

The boat set sail for Central America from the Ecuadoran city of Esmeraldas, close to the Colombian border, on Thursday, August 11, he said.

«When it comes to illegal migrants, it’s common that many people set sail in small boats, which is obviously a risk,» he said, acknowledging that that could have caused the disaster.