By Julio Cesar Rivas
St. John’s, Canada, Feb 20 (EFE).- Authorities were working against the clock on Sunday to complete the procedures for the repatriation of the three survivors of the Spanish fishing trawler “Villa de Pitanxo” that sank off the coast of Canada last week, along with the bodies of five others who died.
A Spanish Air Force Airbus A-400 arrived on Sunday at St John’s airport and will transport the ship’s captain Juan Enrique Padín Costas, his nephew Eduardo Rial Padín and Ghanaian seaman Samuel Kwesi Koufie, the only three survivors of the tragedy, in the next few hours.
The bodies of five crew members of the trawler will also be transported by the plane.
The vessel based in Marin, a port in the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia, sank on Feb. 15 while fishing in the waters of the Grand Banks, some 250 nautical miles (460 km) east of Canada’s Newfoundland coast.
Spain’s ambassador to Canada, Alfredo Martínez Serrano, who has traveled to St John’s — capital of Newfoundland and Labrador province — to accompany the survivors, assist in the repatriation and provide assistance to family members, said that four of the deceased are Spaniards and the other Ghanaian.
The bodies of the other four crew members who died will be repatriated to Peru, their country of origin.
Meanwhile, another 12 crew members of the “Villa de Pitanxo” are still missing.
Martínez Serrano, who went to the airport to receive the Spanish military plane together with the deputy premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Siobhan Coady, said that it is not known at what time the plane will be able to depart for Spain.
When the Airbus A-400 landed at 12 am, the Canadian and Spanish authorities were still working to complete all the procedures for the repatriation.
The Spanish ambassador expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and “dismay” at this tragedy.
Martinez Serrano said that since the start of the operation, the Spanish authorities have “been following the principles of humanity, commitment and, of course, professionalism,” while highlighting “the extraordinary collaboration with the Canadian authorities.”
“Our thoughts and hearts, Spain is in mourning, they have been at all times, with the families to whom we have a duty,” the Spanish ambassador added.
The deputy premier of Newfoundland and Labrador said it was “a difficult day for the families, for all of us.”
“Newfoundland and Labrador and Spain have close ties. We are peoples of the sea. And we share the sadness that this day brings,” she added.
Among the 10 crew members on the Spanish plane are a psychologist, a doctor and a nurse to attend to the three survivors.
On Saturday, two of the three survivors and seven of the crew members who died in the shipwreck arrived at the port of St. John’s aboard the Spanish fishing boat “Playa de Menduina 2.” A day earlier, the Canadian ship “Nexus” had transported the other two recovered bodies. EFE