Wind overturns tourist boat, and at least three die

A tourist boat carrying 120 passengers and 10 crew members capsized in the Gulf of Nicoya Thursday, and at least three persons died.

The catamaran was the Ecoquest, operated out of the Los Sueños Marina in Herradura by Pura Vida Princess, said officials. The site of the mishap was some five miles off  Punta Leona near Jacó in the central Pacific. The destination was the Isla Tortuga, a frequent tourist stop.

High winds are believed to have produced the wave that overturned the boat.

Some passengers were air lifted by helicopter for medical attention.

The Minsterio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said that the boat was up to date with its licensing and that it carried five lifeboats. There also were 24 lifejackets for children and 174 for adults, said the ministry, based on the last inspection Nov. 7.

Some passengers were rescued by a commercial boat in the vicinity, officials said. The dead were not identified immediately.

The Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea provided the helicopters and the Servicio Nacional  de Guardacostas sent eight boats to the scene from Quepos and Caldera. Some 40 rescued passengers were brought to Caldera.

The security ministry said that 57 more came to Herradura.

Luis Fernando Coronado, director of the División Marítima Portuaria said the boat was relatively new and built in 2007.

He said the hulls were fiberglass.

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