Canadian school ship sinks off Brazil coast; all 64 aboard rescued

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Officials say all 64 people aboard a Nova Scotia-based tall ship were rescued safely Friday after the vessel sank off the coast of Brazil in strong winds.
The Concordia, a 57-metre sailing school, is owned by West Island College International with offices in Lunenburg, N.S.
The vessel went down about 500 kilometres southeast of Rio de Janeiro.
The head of the school, Kate Knight, said the 64 people included 48 students in grades 11 and 12 and first-year university.
Knight said they got word Thursday morning that a distress signal had been picked up from the vessel and an air and sea search commenced.
She said everyone successfully abandoned ship and got into the vessel's life-rafts, which are equipped with blankets, medical supplies and food.
The life-rafts were spotted from the air around 8 p.m. AT on Thursday, she said.
"There was no visual of our vessel, but we are happy to report that as of 6:30 a.m. (Friday) all 64 members of our crew were safely recovered and are currently aboard two merchant marine vessels off the coast of Brazil," she said in a telephone interview from Lunenburg.
"They will be consolidated in one vessel this afternoon and safely transported back to land."
Knight said that as far as she knew, no one was suffering from any "medical issues" as a result of the incident.
She said she doesn't know what caused the Concordia to sink.
"At this point we can't confirm at all what circumstances led them to abandon ship, or the status of the vessel," she said.
Brazil's navy said in a statement that a distress signal was picked up from the three-masted ship on Thursday.
Three hours later, an military plane spotted the life-rafts floating in the ocean.
The navy sent its own rescue ship, but those aboard the Canadian ship were plucked from the ocean early Friday by other vessels.
The ship had left Brazil's northeast on Feb. 8 and was expected to dock in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Tuesday.
The school's website says the Concordia was built in 1992 and "meets all of the international requirements for safety."
The program gives the students the chance to study various subjects while sailing the world.

Organizations: West Island College International

Geographic location: Brazil, RIO DE JANEIRO, Lunenburg Montevideo Uruguay

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