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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – A catamaran carrying dozens of foreign tourists on a pleasure cruise capsized off Costa Rica on Thursday, killing three people, emergency officials said.
The boat, which was on a day trip to the popular Tortuga (Turtle) Island, sank completely about 9 miles (15 kilometres) off the country’s central Pacific Coast.
Firefighters Corps director Hector Chavez said initial reports of an explosion and fire were mistaken. Survivors reported that strong waves filled the boat with water and caused it to sink, he said. He also lowered the death toll to three, saying that one of the dead had been counted twice.
The country’s Public Security Ministry said in a Twitter posting that one of the victims was a U.S. citizen and another was from Britain.
Private boats in the area took in passengers until rescuers arrived.
The tour operator reported that the Pura Vida Princess, a 100-foot catamaran, left Marina Los Suenos in the morning with 98 passengers and a crew of 10.
Rescuers had recovered 94 people from the shipwreck and taken them to two emergency centres on land. Authorities were awaiting the arrival of one last rescue boat to make a complete accounting of those on board.
According to the Pura Vida Princess website, the Tortuga Island day trip costs $125 and includes meals, a DJ, snorkeling and open bar.