Search for victims of sunken Spanish fishing boat ends, 12 crew still missing

Search and rescue teams in eastern Canada ended the search for victims of a Spanish fishing trawler that sank on Wednesday (16/2). Only three of the 24 crew members were found safe.

Spain mourns the accident. Spain’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Luis Planas, said the accident was “the worst tragedy we have experienced in the fishing sector in 38 years.”

Rescue teams searched for 12 missing victims, while nine others have been confirmed dead and three others were rescued from the Atlantic Ocean after the trawler sank in bad weather.

“The search for the twelve fishermen who went missing from the Villa de Pitanxo has stopped,” Brian Owens of the Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) in Halifax, Canada told AFP.

The search and rescue mission was suspended following a “tiring” search process that lasted more than 36 hours, covering 3,080 square kilometers of sea.

After briefly mentioning 10 bodies were found, on Wednesday (16/2), Canadian officials corrected the death toll to nine people.

Spain last experienced a major fishing disaster in July 1984, when a sardine fishing boat called the Islamar III sank in the Canary Islands, claiming 26 lives.

“This is a job that is not only very difficult, but also very dangerous,” added Planas.

In Madrid, lawmakers held a moment of silence for the dead and missing from the sinking of the fishing boat, about 250 nautical miles east of the Canadian city of Newfoundland.

Of the 24 crew members, 16 of them are Spanish, five are from Peru and three are from Ghana. [rd/jm]