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RCMP suspends search for fishers missing off the N.S. coast due to incoming storm

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia search for missing scallop fishers suspended after two days' Nova Scotia search for missing scallop fishers suspended after two days
The search for a group of scallop fishers in the Bay of Fundy has been suspended, one day after the scallop fishing vessel Chief William Saulis sank. – Dec 16, 2020

The Nova Scotia RCMP says it is temporarily suspending the search for the remaining five fishers who went missing off the coast of Nova Scotia after their scallop boat sank on Tuesday.

In an email, RCMP said ground and water searching is suspended throughout Thursday “due to impeding storm forecasted today.”

Read more: Most of Nova Scotia under ‘significant snowfall’ warning, Environment Canada says

They said the situation will be re-assessed Friday, as heavy snow is expected to hit the province.

“Our priority right now is the recovery of the fishermen,” said RCMP spokesperson Andrew Joyce.

“We understand, we can put ourselves in this situation if it was one of our loved ones, we would certainly want to do everything we could possibly do,” he said.

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Read more: Nova Scotia group secures grief counselling as search for 5 missing fishers continues

The 15-metre Chief William Saulis floundered northeast of Digby amid heaving, three-metre waves pushed by 40 km/h gusts and an unusually high tide.

The company where the fishers worked, Yarmouth Sea Products, confirmed their names: Aaron Cogswell, Leonard Gabriel, Dan Forbes, Michael Drake and Geno Francis, and captain Charles Roberts.

The body of one man was recovered late Tuesday, but the search continued Wednesday for five other men as ground search crews said they were seeking closure for the families.

The investigation was handed to the RCMP on Wednesday after first being spearheaded by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre. The centre said Wednesday afternoon it has suspended the search.

“Regrettably, based on the results of the search over the last 36+ hours, a search covering over 260 sq NM by sea and air, and the environmental factors, the search for the six missing fishers has been suspended,” JRCC said in a tweet.

Click to play video: 'Search continues for missing fishers off the coast of Nova Scotia' Search continues for missing fishers off the coast of Nova Scotia
Search continues for missing fishers off the coast of Nova Scotia – Dec 16, 2020

 

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Joyce said the RCMP has moved to a recovery mission where it assumes those involved are deceased. “That’s the reality of the situation unfortunately.”

The Mayor of Yarmouth Pam Mood told Global News the suspension hit hard as families of those missing are seeking closure. While it happened for the right reasons, it slowed down the grieving process, she said.

“You cannot even put into words. The grieving process is the most important and I don’t even know if we’re there yet,” she said.

She said the town will work with the association, Workers Compensation Board and the Mental Health Foundation going forward, “to ensure everyone has access to the help they need.”

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