Five missing after boat capsizes off Baja coast

State's director of fishing is among disappeared

TIJUANA – Five men, including the Baja California's fisheries' chief, remain missing after their boat capsized during the storm that rolled through the region Tuesday.

"A small motor flaw" and a large wave combined to overturn the boat, according to two fishermen who were rescued.

Despite the poor weather conditions Thursday, authorities and private fishing groups continued searching for the missing men in the waters off Punta Eugenia, near the border with Baja California Sur.

Carlos Fernández, director of Baja California's fishing and aquaculture agency, said that 30 vessels scoured the area looking for the men. He identified them as Ricardo Castro Villafuerte, Ramona Castro Villegas, José Castro Cervera, Juan Carlos Ojeda and Juan Nemesio Murillo Murillo.

Murillo is the director of the fishing for the state and had boarded the boat in Ensenada along with six fishermen on Tuesday en route to Cedros Island to attend a meeting of the national association of abalone fishing.

On Wednesday, two of them were found clinging to the capsized boat.

An airplane and two of the association's boats joined two planes and ships from Mexico's navy in the searching near the coast at Punta Eugenia, located on the border with Baja California Sur, Fernández said.

In all, some 60 to 70 people plus 20 divers were participating in the search, he added.

The two fishermen who were rescued, Antonio Victorio Moreno and Francisco Tapia Mellón, described their ordeal to authorities on Thursday.

Fernández said that a combination of factors capsized the boat. First, the vessel had a small flaw in its motor but was operational.

"A little after leaving," he said, "a wave caused by the poor weather in the area overturned the vessel."

He said the search would continue Friday.


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