'Good chance' more US capsize victims alive

The US Coast Guard said Tuesday there was a "good chance" of finding more survivors among seven Americans missing after a deadly Mexican tour boat accident, as crews scoured waters off Mexico's northwest coast.

The mishap claimed the life of at least one American passenger, identified by Mexican officials as Leslie Yee. Seven others were still missing and feared dead after their fishing vessel with 43 people on board sank Sunday.

US Coast Guard Lieutenant Bill Burwell told CNN that no one had been found alive since late Monday, but that US crews were continuing the search for survivors along with Mexican teams.

"We've had two crews flown out for our rescue helicopters and there is multiple Mexican -- both airborne and surface -- assets looking for any signs of survivors," Burwell told CNN.

"We have not recovered any survivors in the last 12 hours. We are continuing to search," Burwell said, adding he was hopeful the missing passengers might somehow have found a way to stay alive while adrift in the Sea of Cortez, situated between the Baja California peninsula and the Mexican mainland.

"The water is warm -- about 85 degrees (29 Celsius) -- and if someone is out there, there's a good chance they are still surviving. We will keep looking for them," he said.

The official said rescuers were using a "multitude of sensors" as they searched the waters for signs of life.

The fishing ship "Erik" set sail from San Felipe, on the eastern side of Baja California peninsula, but was caught in a storm early Sunday in the Sea of Cortez and capsized, authorities said.

The Mexican navy on Monday deployed a helicopter, an airplane and three boats to assist the search for survivors.

Seventeen Mexicans on the ship made their way aboard emergency rafts to nearby small islands and are unharmed, the navy said.

Navy vessels, local fishermen and other ships rescued more survivors, the navy said.

One of the passengers, Charles Gibson, told US television Tuesday that he managed to stay alive by clinging to a floating beverage cooler, as did several other passengers, for several hours until he spotted a mass of land.

"We decided to swim for shore and we all got separated, and then for about nine of the 16 hours out, I was alone," he told broadcaster NBC.

"I had to swim the whole time in order to try to fight the current to get to finally what I call the Big Rock," he said.

"It was a big island in the middle of this area, about maybe five miles (eight kilometers) from where I started," Gibson said.

"I asked the Lord to kind of give me a hand to get to the shore," said Gibson.



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