A boat carrying pilgrims during the traditional river procession held every year at the city of Macapa to celebrate the Day of Our Lady of Aparecida, the patron saint of Brazil, was shipwrecked Saturday and at least five people drowned, according to emergency management services.
The Fire Department of Macapa, capital of the Amazon state of Amapa, said that one of the 50 boats taking part in the religious ceremony sank near the Praticagem Lighthouse, and that five bodies had been recovered from the waters.
The Port Authority said the boat was launched in 2010 and had a capacity for 40 people, though local media suspect it was overcrowded.
Firefighters said that 34 people were rescued and that the boat's captain is still missing.
The procession had set out from Porto do Grego in the municipality of Santana, led by a raft bearing the image of the patroness of the Brazilian Catholic Church.
Brazilians are honoring Our Lady of Aparecida (a city and municipality in Sao Paulo state) this Saturday with gatherings of the faithful in churches, parades of pilgrims, and processions like that of the River Celebration in Macapa and the Feast of Nazareth in Belem, capital of the northern state of Para, during which thousands of Catholics go out into the streets or form a flotilla of boats. EFE