All crewmembers of an Argentine fishing vessel which caught fire and was abandoned early Friday morning off the coast of Santa Cruz province, north of the Falkland Islands have been rescued, reports the Argentine Coast Guard.
"Puente America" with 46 crew on board and positioned 110 nautical miles from Puerto Deseado begun radioing for help after a fire which apparently begun in one of the holds turned out of control. A helicopter, a sanitary support aircraft and a Coast Guard vessel took off for the stranded vessel following further distress calls from a neighboring fishing vessel, "Carolina P". In a first operation 38 of the 46 crewmembers jumped into zodiacs and were rescued by "Carolina P", with the captain and seven other members remaining on board in an attempt to put the fire off. However by mid morning it was evident that the fire was out of control and the remaining crew abandoned efforts and were also rescued. According to the latest report a larger Argentine Coast Guard vessel equipped to combat fire is on its way with the purpose of salvaging "Puente America". "It's not an easy task in the high seas, but we must attempt it", said Captain Miguel Angel Reyes from the Coast Guard, although admitting the fishing could be a total loss given the intensity and damages caused by the fire. In related news a Coast Guard helicopter stationed in Comodoro Rivadavia made a medical evacuation from a fishing vessel off the coast of Puerto Madryn. A crew member of Argentine flagged "Altalena" suffered a serious fracture in his right leg and ankle and was lifted in a basket by the rescuing helicopter. Following first aid by a doctor on board the helicopter he was flown to Trelew.