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Coast Guard ends search for missing California fishermen

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - The Coast Guard ended a search on Tuesday for seven California sports fishermen, now presumed dead, who have been missing since the boat they were on capsized off western Mexico earlier this month.

The Coast Guard said it had used C-130 cargo planes and HH-60 Jayhawk helicopters to look for the men in a search that had covered more than 7,000 square miles.

The seven California men were among 43 people aboard a 115-foot chartered fishing boat dubbed the Erik that left San Felipe on Mexico's Sea of Cortez on July 2.

The ship encountered a storm on its first night and sank in the early morning hours of July 3.

Thirty-five of the people aboard the boat swam to shore or were rescued, and Mexican police recovered the body of one passenger who died.

Search and rescue teams had continued to scour the Sea of Cortez for the remaining seven men, and at first officials expressed hope the sea's warm waters could allow for survival.

But the Coast Guard said on Tuesday that the Mexican Navy ended its rescue operation and was no longer requesting assistance from the Coast Guard.

"Despite the thorough search of the region by Mexican and U.S. search teams, no signs of the missing men were found," Rear Admiral Joseph "Pepe" Castillo, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard's 11th District, said in a statement.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to all those impacted by this tragic incident," he said.

(Reporting by Marty Graham, writing by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

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