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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 April, 2003, 05:34 GMT 06:34 UK
Twelve die in Brazil ferry sinking
Capsized ferry and rescuers
The wreckage has now been checked by divers
At least 12 people drowned when a tourist boat sank off the coast of Brazil, local officials say.

The vessel, the Tona Galea, went down near Papagaio Island, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of Rio de Janeiro.

It was carrying about 60 passengers on a day trip when it sank on its return to port.

Survivors say the accident was caused by a large wave hitting one side of the boat.

Some also say that the passengers panicked, rushing from one side to the other, causing the boat to capsize.

"A wave hit one side, it turned us over, then I didn't see anything else," said passenger Juliana Garcia.

Several small boats went to rescue the survivors.


"Everyone was desperate. There was no-one there to help. We were just floating there," said another passenger, Edilson Nunes.

The boat was one of the hundreds of schooners which take tourists out to the islands off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

Among those who drowned were 10 women and a 10-year-old girl.

Almost all are thought to have been Brazilians visiting from Sao Paolo state for the Easter holiday.

Five other people are reported missing, but divers have now checked the wreckage and say there are no more bodies to be recovered.

The authorities are hopeful that those still missing may have been rescued and have simply gone home.

They say they are investigating the circumstances of the accident.


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