Coast Guard searching off Texas after fishing boat distress call

Reuters News
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Posted: May 24, 2012 1:19 PM

By Jim Forsyth

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - The U.S. Coast Guard was searching off the Texas coast on Monday for six people feared missing a day after a distress call indicated a fishing boat may have been sinking in the Gulf of Mexico near Galveston, the Coast Guard said.

A caller radioed on an emergency frequency on Sunday afternoon that the boat was sinking and that he and five other people on board were climbing into a life raft, said Elvie Damaso, a spokeswoman for the Coast Guard.

U.S. Coast Guard planes and cutters were scouring the waters near Galveston, she said.

"It is an extensive search with a lot of assets," she said.

She said the vessel went by the name of either Scallywag or Skylark, though the Coast Guard has not been able to find records of any boats by those names that were due to return and have not.

The radio transmission indicated the boat was sinking 2.2 miles from the entrance to the Houston Ship Channel, Damaso said. She said there was a possibility the distress call was a prank but that "we are not treating it as such."

By midday on Monday, there had been no sign either of the ship or a life raft. Damaso said she had no information on the age or gender of the missing people.

(Editing By Corrie MacLaggan, Cynthia Johnston and Vicki Allen)