10 dead, 11 missing as Spanish trawler sinks off Canada
Aerial view of Great Island south of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, the area where a Spanish trawler sank
MONTREAL – At least 10 fishermen died and 11 others were missing on Tuesday after a Spanish trawler sank in rough seas off eastern Canada, officials said, as bad weather reduced the chances of finding fish. other survivors.
There were 24 crew members aboard the vessel when it sank some 250 nautical miles (463 kilometers) east of Newfoundland, with rescuers searching for the rest of the crew despite harsh weather conditions, officials said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Canada’s Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) said seven bodies had been found and three survivors rescued – snatched from a life raft in the Atlantic, Spanish officials said.
“Unfortunately JRCC Hfx can confirm that 3 more deceased people have been recovered from the sunken fishing vessel,” the center’s Halifax operation tweeted in the evening.
Weather conditions, including rough seas, high winds and reduced visibility, made it difficult to find survivors, with the arrival of nightfall and falling temperatures in the cold North Atlantic only reducing the chances of finding more crew members alive.
The Spanish Ministry of Transport identified the crew members as 16 Spanish nationals, five Peruvians and three Ghanaians.
The Villa de Pitanxo, a 50-metre (165ft) fishing vessel based in a port in Galicia, sent two distress calls, which were received at 05:24 (0424 GMT) in Madrid, the ministry said.
Five hours later, another Spanish fishing vessel that was in the area spotted two life rafts, one of which was carrying three survivors and several bodies, he added.
Rescuers later found four more bodies.
“In one there were only three survivors who were in hypothermic shock because the water temperature is horrible, very low,” Maica Larriba, a representative of Spain’s central government, told public radio. in the region of Galicia.
She said the survivors were airlifted to safety by a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter and rescuers found two more “totally empty” life rafts as they searched for a third.
It was not immediately clear what had caused the sinking of the boat.
Canadian rescuers said they hoped more survivors could be rescued despite the poor conditions.
“The fact that we have already found three survivors in a life raft gives us hope that others were able to put on their survival suits, get into life rafts and get off the ship,” he told AFP. Brian Owens of the JRCC.
Canadian rescuers had deployed a helicopter, a military plane, a coast guard vessel and several boats to search for the missing crew members, according to Owens.
“The current weather is difficult for the search. It’s about four meter waves and visibility is down to about a quarter of a nautical mile,” he said.
– ‘Saddest day’ –
“We could certainly speak of one of the saddest days for Galician fishing in its entire history,” Javier Touza, head of the shipowners’ cooperative in the northwest city of Vigo, told public radio. from Spain.
The Villa de Pitanxo is a freezer trawler registered in 2004 based in Marin, a small port near Pontevedra, and owned by the owner Manuel Nores.
Founded in 1950, the firm has eight freezer trawlers and some 300 employees, with vessels operating off the Canadian coast, in the South Atlantic and off the west coast of Africa, according to its website.
“We are following with concern the search and rescue operation for the crew of the Galician vessel that sank in Newfoundland waters,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted.
“All my love to their families. The government remains in constant contact with the emergency services,” he added.
Labor Minister Yolanda Diaz, from Galicia, said she was “shocked” by the news.
“All my love and support to the families of the crew in their pain during this time of uncertainty,” she tweeted.