Search for missing Cape Town fishermen called off

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The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) says the search for the fishermen who went missing after a 35-meter long deep-sea fishing vessel, Lepanto, sank off Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard has been called off.

This comes as all efforts into finding 11 of the 20 South African fishermen who were on board has been exhausted, while nine crew members have been rescued.

Acting Chief at the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, Captain Ravi Naicker, says, “On Saturday evening, we made another determination and by 21:10 on Saturday evening, we decided to close out the search. And that was based on the basis that there were a significant amount of search and rescue units put in the area from the period that it was announced that there was a mayday and through the resources. Nothing else has come up. So, what we would do as MRCC is the notification is still out, any vessels transiting that area if they do come up with any information then the MRCC will activate once again. But at this point in time, the search has been called off.”

The Sea Harvest Group says necessary support is given to survivors and family members.

Chief Executive Officer, Felix Ratheb says families and the nine survivors are receiving counselling.

Ratheb says they will be working with the South African Safety Authority (SAMSA) to find out what led to the incident.

“Our first reaction was to get our own vessels in the area to try and do something about it. Fortunately, the vessel you see behind me, the Armana, she was in the area and managed to rescue nine people of ours. From then on, the rescue services in Cape Town have been fantastic. I mean we’ve had air and sea support and over 200 of our staff in the area looking for survivors. Unfortunately, after two days, the authorities decided to call it off. We couldn’t find more people and now we tryna get to the bottom of what transpired,” says Ratheb.