Thursday, July 7, 2011

Families of missing US fishermen hold out hope

Family members Wednesday said they were asset out hope that seven U.S. tourists missing since their boat capsized off Mexico's coast three days ago were still alive.

Mexico's navy and the U.S. Coast Guard spent one more day searching for the men in the balmy Gulf of California as relatives who had gathered in San Francisco required assurances that the search would continue. Most of the 27 passengers on board the ship were Northern California men who traveled to the gulf for an yearly Independence Day fishing trip.

California state Sen. Leland Yee, a San Francisco Democrat, said at a news meeting with family members that Mexican authorities told him the search would expand beyond 96 hours.

"It's significant we hold the Mexican government to this," Yee said.

Mexican navy Capt. Ruben Bustos said Tuesday that a 96-hour search is frequently their protocol to rescue people. After that, their search characteristically turns into a recovery of bodies, though officials have said that the warm weather and water temperature may help the missing survive.

Rescue teams were coordinating with officials across the gulf in the state of Sonora since shipwreck survivors in the region sometimes are swept far away by tides.

Nineteen fishermen and all 16 crew members were rescued late Sunday, hours after a unexpected storm capsized the 115-foot vessel, the Erik.

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