RIO DE JANEIRO – A sailing ship owned by a Canadian school sank off the coast of Brazil in strong winds, but all 64 passengers were rescued from rafts Friday.
"Everyone aboard the ship has been rescued — they've all been accounted for," a Navy spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak about the incident.
Brazil's Navy said in a statement that a distress signal was picked up from the three-masted SV Concordia about 5 p.m. (2 p.m. EST; 1900 GMT) Thursday. It was located about 300 miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.
Three hours later, an Air Force plane spotted life rafts floating in the ocean where the distress beacon had come from. The Navy had already informed shipping in the region to be on the alert.
The Navy sent its own rescue ship, but those aboard the Canadian ship were plucked from the ocean early Friday by other vessels.
The Concordia is owned by West Island College International in Nova Scotia.
Canada's Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said nobody on board was injured and he thanked "Brazilian authorities who led a search and rescue operation and acted swiftly to assist the ship and its passengers."
The school said in a statement on its Web site that the Concordia was on a 10-month voyage. It added the "status of the vessel is unknown," though the Brazilian Navy said it sank.
Terry Davies, founder the school, told The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that the rescued passengers were being taken back to Rio de Janeiro.
He said 42 Canadians were on board the ship, but didn't say where the others were from.
The ship had left Brazil's northeast on Feb. 8 and was expected to dock in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Tuesday. It was then scheduled to stop at several islands in the Atlantic and in southern Africa before returning to the Caribbean and then to Canada.
The school's Web site says the 188-foot-long (57.5-meter-long) Concordia was built in 1992 and "meets all of the international requirements for safety." It can carry up to 66 passengers and crew and also can operate under motor power.
The college's Web site says it gives high school and college students the chance to study various subjects while sailing the world. Tuition is listed as being 42,500 Canadian dollars ($40,600) a year for students in the 11th and 12th grades and in university.