Shipwrecked Spanish fishing boat bodies, survivors await repatriation

By Julio Cesar Rivas

St. John’s, Canada, Feb 19 (EFE).- A ship carrying three survivors from the shipwrAeck of a Spanish fishing trawler off the coast of Canada and the bodies of seven others who died in the accident arrived Saturday in the Canadian city of St. John’s as a preliminary step to repatriation to their countries of origin.

Spanish fishing boat Playa de Menduina 2 arrived in St. John’s a day after another vessel, Nexus brought two deceased crew members of the Villa de Pitanxo fishing trawler.

Its arrival coincided with the announcement that the nine bodies recovered from the sea have been identified and include five Spanish sailors, three Peruvians and one Ghanaian, the government of the Spanish region of Galicia said.

The 24-person crew of the Villa de Pitanxo, a freezer trawler based in Marin, a port in the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia, was made up of 16 Spaniards, five Peruvians and three Ghanaians.

Twelve crew members are still missing in the waters of the Grand Banks, a rich fishing grounds located some 250 nautical miles (460 km) east of the Newfoundland coast, where the Villa de Pitanxo sank on Tuesday morning.

The Playa de Menduina 2 moored in the port of St John’s at 7:10 am with the only three survivors of the tragedy on board: captain Juan Enrique Padin Costas, his nephew Eduardo Rial Padin and Ghanaian seaman Samuel Kwesi Koufie.

Upon its arrival, Royal Canadian Mounted Police officials boarded the ship and later a group of Canadian officials, as well as representatives of the Spanish consulate.

One by one, the bodies of the deceased, wrapped in green bags, were placed by the ship’s crane on the pier, where workers of a funeral company picked them up and put them into funeral vehicles.

As had happened on Friday with the bodies of the two fishermen transported by the Nexus, the seven bodies were taken to the Health Sciences Centre hospital for forensic experts to conduct their analyses.

Sources consulted by EFE said that the three survivors participated in the process of identifying the deceased.

Subsequently, Padin, Rial and Kwesi were taken to a hotel in the city to wait for a Spanish Air Force plane to transport them back to Spain, along with the bodies of their companions, in the next few hours.

Meanwhile, Canada has not confirmed the resumption of the search for 12 missing crew members of the Villa de Pitanxo, who are feared to have sunk with the boat.

A spokesperson of the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Halifax, Nova Scotia told EFE on Friday that he had no information about the resumption of the search, which the families of the missing have requested.

A statement by the Canadian foreign ministry spokesperson sent to EFE also did not include any reference to the search for the missing crew members.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez spoke with Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau on Friday night.

“Prime Minister Trudeau shared his deepest condolences for the tragic loss of life that occurred when the Spanish fishing vessel Villa de Pitanxo sank off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador earlier this week,” the prime minister’s office said in a summary of the conversation posted on its website. EFE


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