Search ends off Canada with 12 crew members missing from Spanish fishing boat

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The search covered 900 nautical miles in 36 hours but 12 are still missing from the fishing boat (HfxJRCC photo)

Posted on February 17, 2022 at 8:01 PM by

The Maritime Executive







Canadian and Spanish officials have confirmed that the search for the crew of the fishing vessel Pitanxo Villa officially ended, leaving both countries reeling from the loss of so many lives. The Halifax Rescue Center has confirmed that only three people survived in a single life raft, while nine bodies have been recovered and 12 crew members are still missing with the ship.


Several fishing boats that had joined the search began the sad procession back to St. John’s, Newfoundland, carrying the survivors and the bodies of the dead. They should arrive in port Friday morning. Meanwhile, officials report it was the worst loss of life off Newfoundland in more than two decades, while in Spain they compare it to the loss of another fishing vessel , the Islamar III which sank off the Canary Islands in July 1984, killing 26.


“The decision is never taken lightly.” Lt. Commander Brian Owens of the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Halifax told CBC News they traveled more than 900 nautical miles using aircraft as well as help from eight vessels, including rescue boats. Spanish and Portuguese fishing who had been in the However, after 36 hours and with seas over 30 feet, winds of 45 knots and temperatures below freezing, he said conditions were no longer viable for the missing crew members.






At the start of the search, they had located a single life raft containing three survivors. They were research the other rafts which had also been located but found no additional survivors. Spanish media say one survivor is the 53-year-old captain of the fishing boat. Officials hope to find out more when they speak with the captain. The other two survivors include the captain’s nephew.


The 164ft fishing boat operated from the Spanish province of Galicia. Reports say there were 16 Spaniards, five Peruvians and three Ghanaians in the crew. The Halifax Rescue Center reported receiving a signal from the ship’s distress beacon shortly after midnight local time on Tuesday, February 15. The vessel was sailing approximately 250 nautical miles east of St. John’s on the Grand Banks. Reports say the fishing boat had left its home port in Spain in late January and had been at sea ever since.


The small Spanish fishing village of Marin in Galicia, like the country, is reeling from the tragic loss of life. Spain’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Luis Planas, spoke of the biggest tragedy in the fishing sector. He said: ‘It is work that is not only very difficult but also very dangerous’, as families in the small town have pleaded for the search to continue and for Spain to help them.


The Spanish Congress observed a minute of silence as a sign of support and joining in the pain of the relatives and friends of those who disappeared in the sinking of the Galician fishing boat.





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