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Search resumes for missing fishermen off New Brunswick coast

A minister of a United Church in a small New Brunswick village says the community is in mourning after several weeks marred with tragedy for the local fishing industry.

Olive Ann Archibald of the Tabusintac Pastoral Church said the crowd at Sunday morning's service was "sombre," as search and rescue teams continued to comb the waters offshore for two missing fishermen.

A lobster fishing vessel carrying three men issued a distress call around 5:30 a.m. Saturday after it hit a sandbar in rough seas and started taking on water. About eight hours later, the body of a 23-year-old man was found near the area where the boat capsized.

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Two weeks ago, five fishing boats were gutted by a fire at the Tabusintac Wharf.

Archibald said the tight-knit community is now "broken."

"They were trying to get over the episode of the burning boats, and then this," Archibald said on Sunday afternoon. "It's very hard on the whole community."

New Brunswick Conservative Serge Robichaud, who represents the Miramichi Bay-Neguac area in the legislature, said on Saturday that the captain of the vessel that ran aground had rented it after his fishing boat was destroyed in the May 5 blaze.

It's a community where everyone knows everyone, said Archibald, and it seemed the entire village was helping with the search efforts for the two remaining fishermen.

"It injures everybody when that happens," said Archibald, who was also offering counselling for community members. "It was very rough yesterday on the waters. Today the water is so calm out there, it's almost scary."

The recovery effort for the men, a 35-year-old man from Tabusintac and a 32-year-old man from Brantville, resumed at 7 a.m. on Sunday, with five search and rescue teams combing the shores of Tubusinac and nearby Neguac.

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RCMP Constable Scott Messier said an underwater recovery team was searching the area where their fishing boat capsized, about five kilometres offshore of Tabusintac.

He said local fishermen were still out in the water searching in boats, and some community members searched on all-terrain vehicles along the shore.

Messier said weather conditions were great for searching on Sunday – a stark contrast from the rain, snow and high winds experienced the day before.

A platoon from the military base CFB Gagetown was also deployed to the area on Sunday morning to assist the Mounties' efforts.

The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax called off their search around 3:45 p.m. Saturday, saying two Coast Guard vessels and a Cormorant helicopter had done all they could to find the two fishermen.

The Transportation Safety Board was sending a team to investigate the incident.

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