Spanish fishing boat sinks off Canada; 4 dead, 17 missing

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MADRID (AP) — A Spanish fishing boat sank early Tuesday in rough seas off Newfoundland, eastern Canada, killing at least four people, Spain’s maritime rescue service said. Three crew members were rescued and a maritime search was launched for the remaining 17 crew members still missing.

The 50-meter (164-foot) fishing boat named Villa de Pitanxo, which operates in Spain’s northwest region of Galicia, sank in darkness (around 06:00 GMT, 1:00 a.m. EST), the representative said. Spanish regional, Maica Larriba, to the Spanish public. radio.

The sunken vessel’s 24-member crew included 16 Spaniards, five Peruvians and three workers from Ghana, the service said. It was not yet known who had been saved.

A rescue center in Halifax, Nova Scotia, operated by the Canadian Air Force and Coast Guard, dispatched a helicopter, a Hercules aircraft and a rescue vessel to the area, which is 450 kilometers (280 miles) off the island of Newfoundland.

“The fishing boat has not been found,” the rescue center wrote on Twitter. “The search continues for the remaining crew and we remain hopeful of finding them.”

A Spanish fishing boat working not far from the sinking site was the first to arrive and found three survivors and four bodies in one of the fishing boat’s four lifeboats, officials said. Two of the rescue boats were empty and the fourth was reported missing.

The Spanish Maritime Rescue Center in Madrid, the Spanish capital, received the first alert from the Villa de Pitanxo beacon and coordinated the rapid response with the rescue center in Halifax, a spokeswoman for the service said.

The boat’s owner, Grupo Nores, did not immediately respond to calls or written questions. According to its website, the group operates fishing fleets in the waters off Argentina, Canada, Morocco, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal as well as in the North Sea.

The news dealt a tragic blow to the port town of Marin in northwest Galicia, where many live by the sea. Marin Mayor María Ramallo said the sinking of the boat was the most greatest tragedy ever recorded for the community.

“We can’t remember anything worse than this,” Ramallo told Spanish news agency EFE.

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Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Portugal, contributed to this report.

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