Rescue workers today pulled the bodies of 20 more American sailors and Marines from Barcelona harbor, bringing to 44 the number killed when a U.S. Navy launch capsized early yesterday.
U.S. Consulate officials said five men were still unaccounted for after the 56-foot personnel carrier overturned following a collision in darkness with a Spanish freighter being towed into port. The launch was packed with servicemen returning from shore leave.
One U.S. official said: "I very much fear the missing men will also be found in the harbor but there is still the hope they may turn up safe.
"The missing crewmen may have overstayed their shore leave and not yet reported back to ship," the official said. The surviors, dead and missing added up to 134 men.
Frogmen from the Barcelona fire brigade searched the murky harbor water for more bodies, but their search has hampered by poor light, and was suspended until Wednesday.
"It is all mud, no sand, and very difficult," one frogmen said, "You sort of [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCES]
The first 24 bodies found here flown to the U.S. base at Torrejon near Madrid today and were being sent to the United States, the American official said.
The dead sailors and Marines were from the U.S.S. Guam, a helicopter carrier, and the U.S.S. Trenton, an amphibious transport ship.
Both vessels are based in Norfolk, Va., but attached to the U.S. Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.
The collision with the 380ton Urlea occurred when the launch was rounding a pier to head out to the ships. After the impact 17 turned over, trapping about 15 men underneath and spilling the rest into freezing water. Some of the trapped men survived within a pocket of air caught under the launch as 17 floated back toward the quay. Others saved themselves by swimming back to the dock.
Officials said 30 sailors and Marines aboard the launch remained hospitalized here, with more than a half-dozen in serious condition.
Five of the 27 name released today were of men who had listed Norfolk as their home town. The five names are: Charles Lewis, Julian Aytona Millena, John Timothy Mullen, James O'Neil Wines and Marine Pfc. C. R. Staten.