OHS Canada Magazine

Death toll rises to 10 in fishing disaster off Newfoundland


February 16, 2022
By The Associated Press

Transportation Boat fatality fishing newfoundland

MADRID — Canadian rescuers have located three more bodies from a Spanish fishing ship that sank in rough seas off Newfoundland, raising the death toll to 10.

A search operation is still looking for the 11 crew members still missing after the ship went down early Tuesday in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Three members were rescued alive.

The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax confirmed the recovery of the three additional bodies.

“Our thoughts go out to all the families of this crew,” the rescue center said on Twitter.

The rescue center in Halifax, Nova Scotia, operated by Canada’s air force and coast guard, dispatched helicopters, airplanes and a rescue vessel to the area, which is 450 kilometers (280 miles) off the island of Newfoundland. Spanish Agriculture Minister Luis Planas said Wednesday that eight boats continue searching for survivors, a fleet made up of Canadian rescue vessels and Spanish and Portuguese fishing boats.

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The 50-meter (164-foot) long fishing boat named Villa de Pitanxo, which operated out of northwest Spain’s Galicia region, sank in the dark early Tuesday, tossing its 24 crew members into icy seas.

Another Spanish fishing boat working nearby was the first to arrive. It found three survivors and four bodies in one of the fishing boat’s four lifeboats, officials said. Two of the lifeboats were empty and the fourth was reportedly unaccounted for.

The crew included 16 Spaniards, five Peruvians and three workers from Ghana, according to Spain’s maritime rescue service.

Spain’s parliament held a minute of silence at the opening of Wednesday’s session for the dead crew, while northwest Galicia, which has a strong fishing industry, declared three days of mourning.

Both Planas and local fishing officials described the sunken boat as “modern” and prepared to withstand the typically harsh weather of the area. Edelmiro Ulloa, speaking for the owners of fishing boats at the port of Vigo, said extreme weather conditions must have caused the tragedy.

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