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Three Rescued, Seven Dead After Trawler Sinks off Newfoundland

north atlantic trawler
Villa del Pitanxo (file image courtesy Salvamento Maritimo)

Published Feb 15, 2022 2:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Canadian Coast Guard is searching for possible survivors from the Spanish trawler Villa del Pitanxo, which went down off the coast of Newfoundland in the early hours of Tuesday morning. 

Shortly after midnight, the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Halifax received notice of an EPIRB signal from a fishing vessel at a position about 250 NM east of St. John's. A Cormorant rescue helicopter, a C130 Hercules aircraft, the cutter CCGS Cygnus and two good samaritan vessels - the Playa Menduiña Dos and Novo Virgem da Barcawere - have been dispatched to assist in a search. 

The fishing vessel has not been found, but search teams located three survivors - all with severe hypothermia from cold water exposure - in a life raft. The ship's master, identified by Spanish media as Juan Costa, is among the rescuees. 

The remains of seven deceased crewmembers have been located, according to Alberto Nunez Feijoo, a top government official in the trawler's home province of Galicia, Spain. 

Four life rafts from the vessel have been spotted and three have been searched as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Canada's National Post. The rescuers hold out hope for finding additional survivors in the fourth raft once it is reached. 14-17 more crewmembers are missing. 

"The search continues for the remaining crew and we remain hopeful of finding them. We will update as more information becomes available," said JRCC Halifax in a statement. 

Villa del Pitanxo was engaged in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization groundfish trawl fishery at the time of the casualty. She departed her home port of Vigo in late January and had been at sea since. Surface conditions in the area at the time of the casualty were reportedly poor, with rough seas, high wind and low visibility.