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Monday, July 4, 2011

NEWS - Fishing Boat Capsized Unexpectly

July 4, 2011 6:50 AM - Updated 11:35 a.m. ET
Source: www.cbsnews.com

Map showing Mexico's Baja California peninsula, off the west coast of northern Mexico. (AP) (CBS/AP)

A fishing boat capsized in an unexpected storm in the Gulf of California off the Baja California peninsula, the Mexican navy said Monday.

Of 44 people on the boat, seven U.S. tourists were missing along with one Mexican crew member, and a US tourist died said navy Capt. Benjamin Pineda Gomez in Baja California port of San Felipe. All others were rescued. Pineda had no details about the man who died.

The Erik, a 115-foot tourist fishing boat, capsized about 2:30 a.m. local time Sunday morning about 60 miles south of San Felipe. Pineda said two giant waves hit the boat, causing it to tip over less than two miles from shore.

Local media in Baja are reporting that the boat belongs to Gustavo Velez, a well-known sports fishing promoter in the area.

No one ashore knew of the accident until about 3:45 p.m. Sunday afternoon, when another fishing boat rescued three people, Pineda said.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Pamela Boehland said some survivors swam to shore and had to hike for help.

Pineda said the navy continued to search Monday with two helicopters, an airplane and 50 personnel. The U.S. Coast Guard is also assisting with a helicopter, he said.

The boat left San Felipe on Saturday carrying 17 crew members and 27 American tourists for a seven-day fishing trip, Pineda said.

According to the Baja Sportsfishing Inc. website, the Erik has been on the Gulf of California, known in Mexico as the Sea of Cortez, since 1989. It was built Holland and was equipped with stabilizers to handle the turbulent North Sea.

Calls to Baja Sportsfishing Inc. were unanswered early Monday. Pineda said the storm that struck the vessel brewed quickly and unexpectedly.