Firefighters from nearby cities and air force pilots have also joined the rescue team to search for survivors at the Guatape reservoir where the four-storey ferry sank.
The El Almirante, which was carrying more than 170 people, got into trouble in the Guatape-El Penol reservoir, a popular tourist resort.
People who survived the capsizing of a ferry, cry as they wait for more information about their missing friends and relatives, at a reservoir in Guatape, Colombia, on Sunday. "There are 25 well-equipped rescue experts working", said the agency's director, Carlos Iván Márquez Pérez. At the moment, 28 people are still missing.
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Dramatic videos circulating on social media show the turquoise and yellow trimmed party boat, called El Almirante, rocking back and forth as people crawled down from a fourth-floor roof as it began sinking. Witness Juan Quiroz told the BBC the boat sank in less than five minutes.
Reports said that a fleet of leisure boats and jet skis came to the rescue immediately after the incident and began pulling victims from the water and the top deck of the vessel.
Colombian rescue workers and scuba divers are continuing the search.
15 still missing after tourist boat sinks in Colombia
Margarita Moncada of a local disaster response agency, said that 99 people were rescued and another 40 were able to swim to shore. Santos said several boats had come to the site of the disaster "and we hope that numerous missing people have been rescued".
The head of disaster relief for Antioquia province, Margarita Moncada, said: At the moment we have nine people found dead.
It's unclear what caused the boat to sink but survivors said that it appeared to be overloaded and nobody on board was wearing a life vest.
"Nobody really knows what happened", said Santos, adding that naval officials were brought in to carry out an investigation.
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