Seven dead, others feared drowned after Spanish trawler sinks off Canada

MADRID, Feb 15 (Reuters) – At least seven crew from a Spanish trawler have died and three were plucked from a life raft after their ship sank off the Canadian coast on Tuesday, an official said, as rescuers searched for more survivors in the bitterly cold Atlantic waters.

The vessel, the Villa de Pitanxo, with a crew of 24 comprising 16 Spaniards, five Peruvians and three Ghanaians, launched a distress beacon at 0424 GMT, Spain’s fisheries ministry said.

It sank around 450 km (280 miles) east-southeast of Newfoundland, the ministry said.

“Seven people have been found dead,” said Alberto Nunez Feijoo, the leader of Spain’s Galicia region where the vessel and several of its crew were from.

“There were two Galician fishing boats in the area, and they are the ones that have recovered most of those bodies,” he told reporters.

Rescuers had sighted four of the vessel’s life rafts. They had been able to get to three and were still trying to reach the fourth, national government official Maica Larriba said.

“Two were completely empty and in one of them were just three survivors in a state of hypothermic shock because the temperature of the water is terrible, very low,” she said.

A Canadian rescue mission was also launched, with the Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) Halifax deploying fishing vessels, a rescue ship and a helicopter.

Nores Marin, the Villa de Pitanxo’s owners, declined to comment.

Based in the city of Pontevedra in the northwestern region of Galicia, the Nores Group has fishing vessels operating in the South Atlantic, off the Canadian coast and between Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau.

Refinitiv data showed the Villa del Pitanxo left the Galician port of Vigo on Jan. 26.