The fishing boat Villa de Pitanxo, based in Galicia in northwest Spain, went down on February 15, 2022, approximately at 1:00am, 460 kilometres (250 nautical miles) east of Newfoundland, plunging its 24 crew members into icy seas. The majority of the 24 crew members are presumed dead. As of this printing, the 53-year-old Captain, Juan Padín Costas, his 42-year-old nephew, Eduardo Rial Padín and one other person survived. Onboard the ship, there were two life rafts, and the three survivors were found on one of them. Three of the dead were discovered on a life raft, and four were recovered from the water.
The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Halifax launched an immediate search. A Cormorant helicopter, a Hercules plane, and the Canadian Coast Guard ship Cygnus were dispatched. Other fishing boats in the area also assisted with the search. The most serious issue is the freezing water temperature. Survivability in these water temperatures is limited due to the rapid onset of hypothermia.
The tragedy’s cause is still unknown. There was no mayday call, and the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) has yet to interview the survivors. Whatever happened, happened quickly, possibly due to the wrath and harsh weather of the Atlantic waters off the coast of Newfoundland.
Spain’s agriculture and fisheries minister, Luis Planas, called the trawler’s sinking “the biggest tragedy in the fishing sector in the last 38 years,” referring to the sinking of the Islamar III, a sardine boat, off the Canary Islands in July 1984, which killed 26 people.
On 16 February, hopes of finding the 11 missing crew members faded, and the search and rescue mission was called off, according to reports on the 17th February.