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Search called off after Spanish trawler sinks off the coast of Canada

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By Euronews
A Spanish fishing vessel sank off the coast of Newfoundland.
A Spanish fishing vessel sank off the coast of Newfoundland.   -   Copyright  Credit: SALVAMENTO MARÍTIMO

At least nine sailors have died and a dozen remain missing after a Spanish fishing vessel sank on Monday night off the coast of Canada.

The fishing vessel named the Villa de Pitanxo, went down some 450 kilometres east of Newfoundland, according to the Salvamento Maritimo agency.

The 50-metre long vessel had 24 crew members on board, including 16 Spanish sailors, five from Peru and three from Ghana.

Three sailors -- including the ship's captain -- were initially rescued from the scene, while seven were confirmed dead on Tuesday afternoon. Canadian rescue services later confirmed that at least two more bodies had been recovered.

On Wednesday, authorities decided to call off the "exhaustive search"after earlier stating that it was "unlikely" that more survivors would be found.

Spain's Fisheries Minister Luis Planas has called the sinking the “worst tragedy for our fishing fleet in 38 years".

A search is ongoing for those who are still missing, with the support of a plane, two helicopters, and a Spanish and a Portuguese fishing boat. A Canadian ship and Halifax-based frigate joined in the efforts.

"The conditions in the area are windy, rough seas and reduced visibility," Salvamento Maritimo said in a tweet.

Planas and local fishing officials described the Spanish boat as “modern” and designed to withstand the typically harsh weather of the area.

The "Villa de Pitanxo" had been based in the port of Marin in northwestern Spain, where family members had gathered, waiting for news.

Spain’s parliament held a minute's silence on Wednesday, while the northwest region of Galicia has declared three days of mourning.

“We are talking about people who knew how to sail, they are professionals, good captains and excellent sailors. So they must have been in very difficult seas,” said Galician regional president Alberto Núñez Feijóo.

Additional sources • AP