Search efforts were scaled back Tuesday night for five Nova Scotia fishermen missing since their boat capsized during a storm late Sunday.
“Any hope of survival has diminished significantly due to frigid water and poor weather conditions,” the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre said in a statement Tuesday.
The 13-metre long Miss Ally, a swordfish and halibut fishing boat, left Cape Sable Island on Feb. 12 and was pounded by gale-force winds and 10-metre high waves before transmitting a distress signal from its emergency locator beacon shortly after 11 p.m. Sunday.
Two coast guard ships, a C-130 Hercules and a Cormorant from CFB Greenwood, and provincial airlines were involved in the search, with the U.S. coast guard assisting.
The search covered 7,000 square miles, Navy spokeswoman Tammy Harnish said.
Earlier in the search, one of the U.S. coast guard’s Falcon jets took off and found what appeared to be a life raft about 80 km south of Halifax, Petty Officer Robert Simpson said. Poor visibility meant they couldn’t see the boat or whether there were people on it, but the jet dropped a GPS buoy to track its position.
George Hopkins, the father of one of the missing fishermen, told the Halifax Chronicle Herald that the crew likely had survival suits on board, but fishermen don’t usually wear them while working because they restrict movement. Hopkins told local media he was losing hope that his son Joel Hopkins, 27, would be found alive.
The missing men, most in their 20s, are based out of Wood Harbour, N.S., a community of 7,000 in the south end of the province.
The case has been turned over to Nova Scotia RCMP as a missing persons case.