One dead after tourist boat capsizes off Mexico

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 04, 2011 11:31 AM

TIJUANA, Mexico (Reuters) - One person drowned and eight were missing after a fishing boat carrying 27 American tourists capsized in a storm and sank off Mexico's Baja California peninsula, authorities said on Monday.

The 115-foot (35 meter) chartered boat left the port of San Felipe on the Sea of Cortez, a haven for windsurfers and sports fishermen, on Saturday but was struck by an electrical storm and capsized early on Sunday, port and navy officials said.

Emergency services officials in San Felipe said 27 of the 44 people on board were U.S. citizens.

The Mexican navy sent rescue teams after the fishing boat's cook and two passengers were rescued by local fishermen and raised the alarm.

The U.S. Coast Guard, which has sent a helicopter to help with the rescue, said one person was dead and authorities were still searching for eight others, but had no information on their nationalities.

"It was a storm and they capsized," U.S. Coast Guard official Benny Minton said.

The boat, called the Erik, was found around 87 miles south of San Felipe, a popular holiday and fishing resort located south of Mexicali.

The Mexican Navy said the boat was carrying 27 passengers and 17 crew, and that the search was continuing for at least eight more people.

According to an Internet advertisement, the Erik has been operating in the Sea of Cortez since 1989 and can sleep up to 42 guests.

"We are still looking for the rest of the people. The weather is really bad right now, with strong wind," local port official Felipe Vallecillo said.

Vallecillo said weather conditions were normal when the boat set sail.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz and Krista Hughes; Editing by Anthony Boadle and Paul Simao)