UPDATE: Coast Guard Calls Off Search for 7 Americans Missing After Mexican Tour Boat Disaster
Unless one of the men miraculously turns up, the accident will have claimed the lives of eight American tourists (the body of one passenger was already found). The Mexican Navy has also called off its search according to the Coast Guard statement.
Relatives of the missing said they would lobby for a continued search even though, at this juncture, that mission would likely be to recover remains. A group of relatives started a Facebook page and a website to encourage a prolonged search.
At FindOurFathers.com, the families are soliciting donations for privately financed search and rescue operations.
"Your support will help bring all seven men home," reads the page.
UPDATE 7/6/11: The search for seven Americans still missing after a Mexican tour boat capsized Sunday off Baja California is continuing Wednesday even as the hope of finding survivors seems to be sinking.
The body of one American, Leslie Yee, has already been identified. Lee was a 65-year-old Californian man who had worked for decades at the San Francisco Chronicle.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Coast Guard and Mexican authorities were given different passenger counts, adding to the confusion surrounding the freak incident, which was apparently caused by an electrical storm. Fishermen helped pull survivors out of the Sea of Cortez, a generally calm body of water that very rarely experiences summer squalls.
The Mexican Navy reported that an American man has died after a tour boat carrying 44 people, 27 of whom were Americans, capsized off the Baja California port of San Felipe after encountering rough weather early Sunday, according to an AP Report. But in a conflicting story, the United States Coast Guard initially told CNN all 27 Americans were accounted for.
In an earlier report, Petty Officer Pamela Boehland of the U.S. Coast Guard told CNN: "You have 27 U.S. citizens accounted for" and that they "were safe in a Mexican hotel," with no mention of the reported U.S. tourist death.
The 100-foot long boat left San Felipe Saturday for a seven-day fishing trip before capsizing. "Some people were wearing life jackets when the tour boat capsized and it was close enough to land for some to swim to shore while others were picked up by good samaritans in private vessels," Boehland said.
According to Boehland, in the initial update from the Mexican Navy, "37 people were confirmed alive and 6 unaccounted for."
But in the AP report, Navy Capt. Benjamin Pineda Gomez in San Felipe said that of 44 people on the boat, "seven U.S. tourists were missing along with one Mexican crew member, and that all others were rescued."
The navy is searching with an airplane, two helicopters and multiple personnel. The U.S. Coast Guard is also assisting with a helicopter, Pineda said.
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