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Mexico: 8 Americans missing after July 4th boat accident

A tourist boat capsized in the Gulf of California this weekend.

One American was reported dead and up to eight missing Monday after a boat carrying dozens of tourists capsized in the Gulf of California this weekend.

The boat was carrying 27 U.S. tourists, mostly from California, and 17 Mexican crew members.

A storm hit the boat about 2:30 AM Sunday and threw passengers into the water off San Luis Island, the Mexican navy told the Los Angeles Times. The waves forced the 115-foot boat to sink quickly, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Workers rescued 19 of the tourists and all crew members by Monday morning, the Associated Press reports. They had spent more than 16 hours clinging to coolers and life vests. Some spent hours swimming in the sea before being rescued.

The Mexican navy announced late Monday that it will extend the search for the missing Americans. The Mexican navy was joined by local fishing boats and a U.S. Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from San Diego.

Authorities decided to extend the search area for survivors because of the warm weather and calm seas. There is a hope the missing Americans are still alive.

"A person who casts away can survive many days. That sea is calm," Mexican navy Capt. Benjamin Pineda Gomez told AP.

Mexican authorities reportedly did not learn of the accident until some of the survivors arrived on shore and informed them.

Passenger Richard Ciabattari, 62, swam about eight miles during his 12 hours afloat before he reached the shore, his wife, Jan Askew, told the Los Angeles Times. She said he was wearing a life jacket.

"I just feel like we're very lucky," Askew said. "I'm glad he's a good fisherman and I'm glad he's a good swimmer."

The annual fishing trip was scheduled for Saturday to Thursday in the Midriff Islands.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/mexico/110704/mexico-missing-americans-july-4th-boat