MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Thirteen Costa Ricans died Saturday when a small ship carrying 32 tourists from Central America and the United States sank off Nicaragua’s Little Corn Island in the Caribbean, officials said.
Nicaraguan government spokeswoman and First Lady Rosario Murillo said that “of the 32 passengers, 13 lost their lives, all of them are Costa Rican.”
She said the other passengers survived and were taken to nearby Big Corn Island.
“This is a big tragedy,” she said.
“They were tourists vacationing in Little Corn Island and they headed off even though, according to our navy, they were told they shouldn’t.”
The Corn Islands, made up of Big Corn Island and Little Corn Island, are located around 70 kilometers (45 miles) off the coast of the southern Nicaraguan town of Bluefields. Although remote, they are becoming increasingly popular with tourists.
Most of the Costa Ricans who died were women according to a list from Costa Rica’s foreign ministry identifying all 13.
It said two of the Costa Ricans killed were U.S. residents.
A ministry spokeswoman said the survivors comprised 13 Costa Ricans, two U.S. citizens, two Britons, one Brazilian and one Nicaraguan, as well as the captain and his crewmate.
Media reports said the captain, who also owns the vessel, was arrested after being rescued, as authorities began an investigation.
Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís declared a national day of mourning for Monday, Jan. 25.
“The government of Costa Rica sends its most sincere condolences to the Costa Rican families mourning today the loss of a loved one,” Solís said in a news release Sunday.