Death toll rises to 10 in fishing disaster off Newfoundland

Spanish fishing boat
The Spanish fishing boat Villa de Pitanxo has sunk off Newfoundland, in eastern Canada.
(Spanish Agriculture, Fishery and Food Ministry)

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 who remain missing after the ship went down early Tuesday in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Three members were rescued alive.

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

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

The U.S. coastline is expected to experience as much sea level rise in the next 30 years as it did in the hundred years prior.

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.

Spanish lawmakers held a minute of silence for the dead crew at the opening of Wednesday’s session of parliament, while Galicia in Spain’s northwest, 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 Galician port of Vigo, said extreme weather conditions must have caused the tragedy.