One man died and another four are missing after a fishing boat sunk off the coast of Figueira da Foz yesterday evening (October 6). Two crewmembers were rescued, but devastated family members and locals are asking why it took authorities so long to reach the boat.
Maritime authorities are still looking for the other missing fishermen, while a “silent protest” against the maritime police’s “slow response” is scheduled for 6.30pm today in front of the Figueira da Foz captaincy.
Martins dos Santos, the head of the north delegation of Portugal’s maritime authorities, admitted that it took “one hour” to dispatch a jet-ski to the boat but refused to admit any delays in the rescue operation.
“There were nets in the water that could put other lives in danger,” he said, explaining that larger boats couldn’t be sent to rescue the fishermen. He also warned that it was likely that the “bad weather and tough conditions” caused the fishing boat to sink and that authorities had to be “careful”.
However, the explanation has not convinced locals.
“They say there were nets in the water… Which nets? Where are these nets? If they had dispatched another jet-ski with someone who knew the sea they would have been able to save everyone,” said João Traveira, the organiser of the protest.
Traveira, a local bodyboarder, has called on authorities to create a special rescue group with two jet-skiers “who understand the sea”.
“We are in a country that instead of promoting life, promotes death,” he added.
The fishing boat ran into trouble at around 7pm yesterday. It was boarded by seven crewmembers, most of them reported to live in the Figueira da Foz area and aged between 40 and 56.
Searches for the missing fishermen are expected to continue while there is daylight.