MANAGUA, Nicaragua, Monday January 25, 2016 – Thirteen women drowned on Saturday when a tourist ferry capsized in rough seas just off the coast of south-eastern Nicaragua.
A pair of British newlyweds, along with two American tourists, three Nicaraguans and 12 Costa Ricans, were rescued from the sunken boat.
All 13 women who lost their lives when a giant wave sank the vessel were vacationing Costa Rican nationals.
The Reina del Caribe (Caribbean Queen) got into difficulty in high winds, rain and “mountainous seas” while travelling between the Corn Islands, a popular tourist area.
Local authorities had reportedly suspended boat launches in the area due to high wind speeds that reached 25 to 30 knots (29 to 35 mph) after several days of stormy weather.
“There was a warning that the weather conditions would be bad, but it appears that was ignored and this tragedy happened,” said Mario Berrios, the Nicaraguan navy’s commander for the southern Caribbean region.
Reina del Caribe’s skipper, Hilario Blandon, 53, was arrested after being rescued from the wreck along with his assistant Eliot Absalon Prats Carter, 30.
General Francisco Diaz, a military police chief, said: “Both are under arrest and will be tried for the crimes of manslaughter and exposing people to danger.”
With special reference to the lives lost, government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo told El 19 Digital: “This is a great tragedy, truly painful, because they were our Costa Rican, Central American brothers and sisters who were vacationing in the waters of the Nicaraguan Caribbean.”
Local media published pictures of police covering some of the dead with a tarpaulin on a wooden jetty after their bodies were recovered.