6 missing after fishing boat sinks in Gulf of Mexico

GENERIC life preserver ring coast guard rescue drowning

Updated 2:55 p.m. ET

(CBS/AP) GALVESTON, Texas - Six people are missing in the Gulf of Mexico after they abandoned their sinking fishing boat in the waters off Galveston, Texas, the Coast Guard said Monday.

The boat's captain sent a mayday call Sunday afternoon saying the vessel was sinking and that the six people onboard were planning to escape in an orange life raft, said Coast Guard command center controller Elvie Damaso.

"We have an onboard emergency. We are taking on water sir," the unidentified boat captain said in a distress call to the Coast Guard.

The captain said the boat was about 2.2 miles off the entrance of the Galveston Ship Channel and taking on water, CBS affiliate KHOU reports.

Damaso says authorities are not sure if the boat is called Scallywag or Skylark because the quality of the line was poor.

Coast Guard officials need the public's help in trying to work out who was on the boat and where it came from, Petty officer Richard Brahm said.

"We weren't able to get it from the captain before the boat went down," Brahm said.

Damaso said at least three boats, a helicopter, a plane and two cutters are involved in the search for the missing fishermen in a stretch of water roughly the size of Delaware. The boat went down somewhere off the coast of Galveston, about 50 miles southeast of Houston.

"All my electronics are down and I couldn't give you an exact location," the boat's captain said in the distress call. Brahm said authorities couldn't be more specific about where to search for the boat because the distress call was received by several communication towers.