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Seven missing after river cruise ship explodes and sinks in Peru

20 July 2016

A luxury cruise ship exploded and sank in the Amazon River on July 16 at Iquitos in Peru and a number of crew and others are missing, feared dead. According to a company statement, the 24-passenger Aqua Amazon “suffered a very serious accident… that caused an explosion and resulted in the sinking of the ship.” 

Aqua Amazon - Image: Aqua Expeditions
Aqua Amazon - Image: Aqua Expeditions

Aqua Expeditions Founder and CEO Francesco Galli Zugaro issued the following statement on July 19: "It was first thought that four crew were unaccounted for, however, this figure rose to five on Sunday night when another crew member could not be located. In addition, there are two external suppliers who are also victims, bringing the total missing to seven people. As of 17:00 EST Monday, July 18, two of the victims have been identified and recovered. Five more remain to be found.

"There are an additional eight crew members in recovery in the hospital following the explosion. Three are in intensive care and the remaining five are receiving all necessary medical attention.

"The source of the fire and explosion is yet to be determined as preliminary investigations are still underway. We are supporting all efforts by the authorities and will continue to do so throughout the process."

There were no passengers aboard the vessel at the time of the incident. Divers and navy personnel are searching the river for the missing, according to local media reports.

One cruise ship employee reported that the explosion may have been sparked by crews doing welding work, according to AFP.

Aqua Expeditions specialises in smaller, luxury river cruises in South America and Southeast Asia. The Aqua Amazon ferried tourists to the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, a protected area in the Amazon known for its ecological diversity.

This is the second fire-related incident to occur on the Amazon River this year. In April, two American tourists died on an International Expeditions ship, after a fire broke out in their cabin and the couple were unable to escape.

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