A tourist boat packed with about 160 passengers for the holiday weekend capsized Sunday on a reservoir near the Colombian city of Medellin, leaving at least six people dead and 31 missing, officials said.
There was initial confusion over the death toll after Margarita Moncada, the head of disaster relief for Antioquia province, told journalists that nine people had died.
It sank extremely quickly.
"Rescue operations will continue as long as the weather conditions allow".
A boat carrying around 170 tourists has sunk in a reservoir in northwestern Colombia. A survivor was quoted as saying that the lower decks were too crowded and that there were a lot of children aboard the boat.
"What makes you angry is there are no controls by the government", he said.
Dramatic videos on social media show the turquoise and yellow-trimmed party boat rocking back and forth as people crawled down from a fourth-floor roof as it sank in a matter of minutes.
Officials have yet to provide details of what caused the accident, with survivors claiming they heard a loud noise before the boat started to sink.
He said rescuers were having difficulty reaching the reservoir by road due to heavy traffic on the major Medellin-Bogota highway. The reservoir is one of the main tourist attractions in the region. The national fire service said it was dispatching firefighters from six towns to help.
"The most important thing right now is to save lives", said Mayor Federico Gutierrez. "The area is a bit hard to reach and various rescue and emergency teams have started joining in", he said on Blu Radio.
In a Twitter post, the country's president Juan Manuel Santos said rescue workers and the air force have been working through the night to assist passengers at the scene. "We are ready to provide the assistance required", he wrote.