A Spanish fishing trawler sank in stormy waters off Canada last week, leaving 21 sailors dead or missing, because its engine failed, the owner of the vessel said on Monday.
There were 24 people on board the Villa de Pitanxo when it went down off the eastern coast of Canada early on Tuesday in Spain's worst fishing tragedy in nearly 40 years.
Rescuers found three survivors in a lifeboat suffering from hypothermia, including the ship's captain Juan Padin, who were taken to the Canadian port of St.John's.
Padin has said the accident happened when the ship attempted to turn, the Nores Marin group, the company based in Spain's northwestern region of Galicia which owns the ship, said in a statement.
"The main engine suddenly stopped, leaving the boat without propulsion or direction, exposed to the wind and the waves, suffering blows from the sea that caused it to tilt and sink very quickly," it added, citing the captain.
Onboard the vessel were 16 Spaniards, five Peruvians and three Ghanaians.
Rescuers have only found nine bodies. Given the freezing water temperatures and the rough seas, there is practically no chance of finding any more survivors.
Canadian rescuers called off the hunt on Wednesday but family members of the 12 still missing have begged the authorities not to give up the search, if only so they can bury the bodies of their loved ones.
A Spanish air force plane picked up the three survivors as well as five of the bodies in St.John's on Monday and was expected to arrive back in Spain overnight.
The remains of the four other bodies which have been found will be repatriated to Peru.