POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 14, 2011
MEXICO CITY » The Mexican navy on Wednesday suspended its search for seven U.S. men missing since a charter fishing boat capsized and sank in Mexico's Sea of Cortez on July 3.
The announcement came a day after the U.S. Coast Guard ended aerial searches, in which a C-130 Hercules aircrew had covered an 803-square-mile (area off the Baja California coast.
Mexican navy Lt. Sindy Espinoza said the naval search was "in a suspended phase," but could resume if new information on the sunken boat's whereabouts came to light. He said the navy would be alert for any reports from passing boats that might spot debris or other signs of the wreck.
Capt. Alonso Montalvo at the Baja California naval base in San Felipe said the navy "is maintaining its presence" in the area where the 105-foot (32-meter) fishing boat Erik went down about 60 miles south of San Felipe.
The search has been complicated by uncertainty about the spot where the boat came to rest. Espinoza said Mexican divers had looked for the wreck but were unable to find anything.
The United States has offered to send deep-water divers to help with the search, but Mexico has so far used its own divers.
The navy and other fishing boats pulled 19 fishermen and all 16 crew members from the water late Sunday. The survivors had clung to coolers, rescue rings and life vests for more than 16 hours after a sudden storm capsized the boat.
Most of the 27 U.S. tourists on board the ship were Northern California men who traveled to Mexico for an annual Independence Day fishing trip.