Over 100 Ecuadorians missing after ship sinks

August 17, 2005

BOGOTA, Aug. 17 (Xinhuanet) -- The Colombian navy declared Wednesday more than 100 Ecuadorian illegal immigrants traveling aboard an Ecuadorian ship were missing after their ship sank in the Pacific Ocean off Colombia.

The navy said in a statement that the boat was carrying about 120 people who sailed illegally out of the Ecuadorian port of Manta hoping to enter the United States. Although the Colombian navy did not specify when the mishap occurred, reports from Ecuador said it occurred last Thursday.

Only nine people, two women and seven men, were rescued by an Ecuadorian fishing boat which was working in the area when the mishap occurred, the navy said. The ship was able to carry only 15 people, the navy said. The ship carrying the immigrants sank at about "194 kilometers off the Island of Malpelo (Colombia), some 500 kilometers off the coastline of Buenaventura and about 1,100 kilometers southeast of Bogota".

An airplane and a patrol boat from the Buenaventura-based navy were included in a "search and rescue plan" once they received reports on the mishap, the source added. The navy said it received the alert message on the disaster on Tuesday at about 18:00 local time (23:00 GMT). Apparently the ship was carrying Ecuadorian citizens who wantedto travel to the Guatemala and then would try to enter the United States illegally, reports from Quito said. Enditem