When the Villa de Pitanxo went down in waters off Newfoundland on Canada’s Atlantic coast, 24 people went overboard in Spain’s worst fishing tragedy in nearly 40 years.
Rescuers found three survivors in a lifeboat suffering from severe hypothermia and recovered nine bodies but the remains of the remaining 12 crew members were never found.
And when the wreckage was located, there was no sign of their remains.
“The wreck of the Villa de Pitanxo was found… very close to the location where the ship’s automatic identification system (AIS) emitted its last signal,” a transport ministry statement said.
The vessel that located the wreckage sent out a robot which was able to film it, with the images sent to investigators who are looking into the cause of the accident.
The survivors have given different versions about what caused it to sink, and the footage would be “incorporated into the investigation,” the ministry said.
María José de Pazo, a spokeswoman for the victims’ families, told RTVE public television they had held onto hope that the missing bodies would be found.
“The discovery of the boat is important for the investigation but also for the families from a psychological point of view,” she said.
The trawler’s captain and his nephew say the boat sank in high seas due to engine failure, but the third person who survived, a Ghanaian sailor, said its net got caught on the seabed but the skipper refused to cut it loose so as not to lose the catch.
Both the captain and the ship’s owner are under investigation for 21 counts of reckless homicide.
Onboard the vessel were 16 Spaniards, five Peruvians and three Ghanaians.