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Toll lowered in capsizing of vessel off Oaxaca's coast

October 21, 2007|From the Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO IXHUATAN, MEXICO — Authorities have recovered the bodies of 15 Central American migrants whose boat capsized in the Pacific Ocean, the Mexican navy said Saturday.

Authorities corrected earlier statements by Oaxaca state officials that 24 bodies had washed up in San Francisco del Mar and a nearby town.

Survivor Noemi Martinez, 29, of El Salvador, said the boat departed from Guatemala and capsized Tuesday with more than 20 people aboard, according to Moises Hernandez, regional commander for ministerial police in Oaxaca. State authorities identified the only other known survivor as Walter Alan, 23, also of El Salvador.

Search efforts were suspended because of heavy rain that flooded rivers and creeks. Earlier, a military helicopter searched the sea while state authorities combed the beach near San Francisco Ixhuatan and San Francisco del Mar, about 175 miles from the Guatemalan border.

"There are reports of more bodies, but the weather hasn't let us go out to sea," said Sergio Segreste Rios, Oaxaca state public safety secretary.

In a news release, the navy said the vessel apparently was overloaded and capsized in heavy seas.

State authorities Saturday counted 11 bodies found, and it was not immediately possible to reconcile the discrepancy with information supplied by the navy.

Illegal migrants who used to travel on railway freight cars have been searching for new routes north since train service was interrupted this year.

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