PUERTO CABEZAS, Nicaragua – Rescue crews in Nicaragua have found a fishing boat that capsized in the Caribbean last week with 50 people aboard and are searching for 18 crew members who remain missing, authorities said Sunday.
The MN Wayward Wind was overturned by a huge wave five days ago about 35 nautical miles southeast of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, survivors said. Thirty-two of those on board either were rescued or managed to reach shore. One survivor later died from sunburn and dehydration.
Survivor Sabio Robles Lerian, 58, told The Associated Press that the boat left port on Dec. 8 for a planned 15-day trip fishing for lobsters. The next morning, screams from on deck alerted him that something bad was happening.
"It was 3 in the morning, I was in my bunk when I heard people screaming 'big wave!' There was a powerful movement, I fell to the floor and all of a sudden water was rushing in," said Robles.
He said he struggled to escape from inside the boat and when he reached the surface he saw other fishermen on the hull of the overturned vessel shouting the names of crew members.
He got into a canoe with three other people. Battling the burning sun and high waves, they managed to paddle their way to shore and alert authorities.
"I was two days and one night with the other three in the canoe and the sun kills. Without water it is even more difficult. My skin is split all over," he said. "I want to believe that the rest (of the crew) is alive because one cannot give up hope, but it is difficult to survive in such conditions."
The 32 survivors managed to make their way to the coast or were picked up by a sailboat.
Vilma Garcia, the wife of a fisherman rescued on Friday, said her husband Porfilio Levy suffered dehydration and severe sunburn and died a day later.
On Saturday, Capt. Reinaldo Morales of the George, a boat taking part in the rescued, confirmed via radio that the missing boat had been found and there were no signs of any more survivors.
Fishing vessels, two coast guard boats and five speedboats were searching for the 18 people still missing, officials with Nicaragua's navy said Sunday.
Luis Manuel Galeano reported from Managua.