Search for missing fishermen expanded
HALIFAX—The search for five Nova Scotia fishermen whose boat capsized in heavy seas late Sunday has been expanded eastward to account for prevailing currents.
Two coast guard vessels and three aircraft already have covered more than 18,000 square kmoff Nova Scotia’s southwest coast, said navy spokesman Lt. Peter Ryan.
Ryan said searchers still are picking up a weak signal from an emergency locator beacon that is believed to be floating near the overturned vessel.
But he couldn’t explain why neither the boat nor the beacon has been found.
He said the likelihood that the men have survived is dropping by the hour. And even if they were wearing immersion suits, their chances of surviving more than 24 hours in the water were slim.
“That 24 hours is what we use as a survivability rate, as a general rule of thumb,” Ryan said in an interview.
“Of course, we’re passed that now but we’re still searching. . . .
“We’re still hoping we can locate the crew and vessel,” he added. “[But] the sea state and the weather are less than optimal.”
Eddie Nickerson, warden of the Municipality of Barrington, said friends and neighbours of the missing men are clinging to hope the crew will be found alive in the life raft.
“I really think people around here have seen these kind of events take place before and there has been survivors,” he said in an interview.
“We all know the sea is ferocious and unforgiving, but as long as there’s something to hang on to, there’s always hope. . . .
“We do realize that as time passes, there’s a chance you may not get the news that you want to receive.”
Nickerson said the community of Woods Harbour is rallying around the families of the five men. He said a local Baptist church was packed through the night for a prayer vigil.
The 13-metre boat, named Miss Ally, is believed to have capsized about 120 km southeast of Liverpool shortly after 11 p.m. on Sunday.
Environment Canada said the ocean temperature at the time was hovering between two and four C.
As well, an offshore buoy recorded wind speeds at 92 km/h while a weather station on Cape Sable Island registered southwest gusts at 124 km/h.
The buoy on the West Scotian Slope also recorded peak waves heights at eight metres late Sunday.
By this morning, wave heights had dropped to about six metres but the wind remained strong under clear skies.