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Death toll at 3 in Costa Rica catamaran accident

January 8, 2015

Update 2:02 p.m. Thursday:

The Public Security Ministry updated its death count to three on Thursday afternoon in a tweet. Among the dead, the tweet named U.S. citizen Sharon Johnston and Ivor Stanley Hopkins, 80, from England.

Survivors in need of medical attention have been sent to the Clínica San Rafael in Puntarenas, Red Cross spokesperson Freddy Román said.

A press conference has been scheduled at Casa Presidencial at 4 p.m.

Update 1:03 p.m. Thursday:

Telenoticias reported that one of the three victims of Thursday’s tourist boat accident was a U.S. tourist named Sharon Johnston. U.S. Embassy in San José spokesperson Alexis Sullivan told The Tico Times the embassy could not confirm the identity of any of the victims at this time.

The embassy added that a consular team was on site and an embassy official is with the Costa Rican Red Cross. The embassy offered to assist the Costa Rican Coast Guard but had not received a response. Sullivan added that the embassy is looking for any U.S. Coast Guard or Navy ships in the area that could offer assistance if needed.

The Tico Times reached out to the British Embassy in San José but was unable to reach someone for comment.

Update 12:40 p.m. Thursday:

Acting President Ana Helena Chacón tweeted that the official number of deaths in the ship that sunk off the coast of Punta Leona is now four. The nationalities of the victims have yet to be released, although Telenoticias has reported that one victim is from the United States and three are from the United Kingdom.

Freddy Román, press representative for the Costa Rican Red Cross, told The Tico Times that survivors suffered nervous breakdowns and a range of physical injuries.

The Public Security Ministry reported that five Coast Guard ships and two helicopters have been scrambled to assist in ongoing rescue operations. Román said that more than 50 Red Cross workers have been mobilized.

Original story continues here:

A tourism catamaran carrying at least 98 people issued a distress call at 8:40 a.m. Thursday stating that it was sinking 6 nautical miles off the coast of Punta Leona in the Pacific Ocean, according to the Public Security Ministry on its Twitter account. Ten crew members reportedly were on board.

The Costa Rican Red Cross reported that three people have died in the accident and five were missing as of 11:55 a.m. Thursday.

At least 54 passengers have so far been rescued and are on shore at the Los Sueños Resort dock in Herradura, the ministry reported.

Police reported that private boats have been participating in the rescue operations, and 40 rescued passengers have been taken to Caldera.

The Pacific and Caribbean have been experiencing stronger than normal winds this week, contributing to poor conditions.

This story is developing. Follow The Tico Times for updates.

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