MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Nicaraguan air and naval teams intensified the search Friday for 26 people missing in the Caribbean after their lobster boat sank with a crew of 50 on board three days ago.
Boats and helicopters scoured an area some 55 kilometers (35 miles) southeast of the small coastal town of Puerto Cabezas, where the boat was believed to have sunk, an army statement said.
So far, 24 crew members have been found alive, but there has been “no sign” of the other 26 missing, First Lady Rosario Murillo told state media.
The Nicaragua-flagged ship sank Tuesday due to rough seas while fishing, the military said. The lobster boat was initially reported as having sunk on Thursday.
After leaving port on Monday, the boat was struck by a strong wave while the crew slept, local media reported after interviewing survivors.
The military said the wave hit the boat sideways, causing it to capsize.
— La Prensa Nicaragua (@laprensa) December 11, 2014
It took eight hours for the boat to sink, leaving crew members time to grab what they could from the craft to stay afloat, according to a report on state-run Radio Ya.
Authorities have not reported any deaths, and the families of those still missing are waiting at the port of Puerto Cabezas for news, TV’s Channel 4 reported.
Nine of the crew were rescued by a passing sailboat while 15 others were able to swim to safety or were picked up by other small boats, authorities said.
Fishing boats typically employ swimmers of indigenous origin or of African descent who live in this remote and impoverished coastal region of Nicaragua.