A US Navy helicopter crew on Friday found the overturned hull of a British yacht that went missing a week ago but found no signs of its four crew members, officials said.
The missing men, all experienced sailors, ran into trouble as they were returning to Britain from a sailing event in Antigua in the Caribbean. They had reported that their vessel, the Cheeki Rafiki, was taking on water, forcing them to change course for the Azores.
On Friday, a Navy search crew discovered the overturned vessel about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) off the Massachusetts coast, but they detected no sign of the crew, the US Coast Guard said in a statement:
"The surface swimmer confirmed the name on the ship was Cheeki Rafiki and went in the water to investigate further. The swimmer determined the boat's cabin was flooded and windows were shattered, contributing to the complete flooding inside. The swimmer also knocked on the hull and reached an arm's length below the waterline with no results."
“The ability to locate that overturned hull, but still not be able to find a life raft is indicative of how unlikely it is that the life raft is still out there,” said Lieutenant Joe Klinker, a spokesman for the Coast Guard’s 1st District, which oversees Massachusetts waters.
Klinker said the search would be called off by midnight Friday unless there are further developments to indicate the missing sailors are still alive.
The search has involved American, British and Canadian vessels and aircraft. The British Foreign Office said it has informed the missing sailors’ families of the discovery. The Foreign Office said earlier Friday that the families were “saddened to hear that the US Coast Guard will be suspending the search. But they were prepared for the fact that this would have to happen”.
US authorities originally abandoned a search for the ill-fated crew after two days due to treacherous conditions but resumed the hunt on Tuesday after a request from the British government and a public petition signed by over 200,000 people.
The 40-foot (12-metre) yacht had had been returning to England from a regatta in Antigua. The crew included 22-year-old captain Andrew Bridge and crew members James Male, 23, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-05-24