HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – A Canadian Coast Guard ship rescued all 22 people from a burning Spanish fishing trawler in the North Atlantic on Sunday, just as the fisherman were leaping into the water.
"It was pretty dramatic when you see a ship sinking and people being launched in a life raft, people jumping off the side," Coast Guard Capt. Derek LeRiche said by telephone.
Some didn't have life jackets on, and some jumped into the freezing water wearing regular clothes, he said.
The Coast Guard was in the area on a routine fisheries patrol about 250 miles (400 kilometers) southeast of Newfoundland when it received a distress call from the Monte Galineiro trawler.
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire.
LeRiche said they arrived about 10 minutes later, just as the Spanish fishermen were jumping into the water or sliding into life rafts.
"We managed to pick them up quite fast, and most didn't have ill effects of the water temperature," he said.
One crewman had hypothermia and was treated on board. Another suffering from smoke inhalation was evacuated by helicopter to a hospital in St. John's, Newfoundland.
It was lucky that the Coast Guard ship had been nearby, LeRiche said.
"We were thinking of doing a boarding on her anyway" with some fisheries inspectors, he said. "All the cards were in line that we were so close."