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11 presumed dead, 9 rescued after fishing boat sinks off the coast of South Africa

A South African minister on Sunday said that 11 fishermen, who went missing when a trawler sank off the coast of the country on Friday, are presumed dead.

"I wish to extend my sincere condolences to the families of the 11 crew members who are now presumed deceased," Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, said in a statement. "The families of the bereaved fishermen have been informed that the search has been called off," she added.

The fishing vessel ran into difficulty and sent out a distress signal on Friday before sinking in the South Atlantic -- just 30 nautical miles off the Cape of Good Hope.

South Africa's lifeboat organization, the National Sea Rescue Institute, previously said 20 crew had been on board the missing trawler.

Nine survivors were found by other fishing vessels on a life raft. The organization said that the survivors were not injured and were brought to shore aboard a fellow fishing vessel during the night.

A fishing trawler sunk 30 nautical miles off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. National Sea Rescue Institute

Lifeboats from Hout Bay and Table Bay on the Cape, along with helicopters and airplanes from private Cape Town operator Aerios Global were launched but difficult weather conditions and a lack of sightings brought the search to an end.

The organization said the search was being conducted in 3 to 4 meter sea swells and 10 to 15 knot winds.

"Thoughts and care are with the fishermen's families and the fishing company in this difficult time," the organization said.

An investigation into the cause of the sinking has been launched.

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