UK & World News

  • 20 May 2014, 8:56

Missing Yachtsmen: 130,000 Call For New Search

More than 130,000 people have signed an online petition, demanding the US Coastguard resume its search for a yacht which is thought to have capsized with four Britons on board.

An air and search for the missing Cheeki Rafiki, which ran into difficulties in the Atlantic Ocean, around 620 miles (1,000km) east of Cape Cod, was called off after 53 hours.

An overturned hull of a yacht matching the description of the vessel was spotted and photographed by a cargo ship assisting the search.

The families of the four yachtsman - Andrew Bridge, Steve Warren, James Male and Paul Goslin - are adamant they would have had time to escape onto a life raft.

That is a view shared by Nicola Evans, a friend of Mr Bridge who sailed with him last year, whose e-petition has now been signed more than 137,000 times.

If 150,000 people sign up, the petition will be delivered to both the US Coastguard and the Foreign Secretary William Hague.

"The US Coastguard has done a fantastic job searching for the crew, but we're asking they just give them a bit more time," Ms Evans said.

"Andy is an amazing guy and showed such genuine care for me and all his crew mates. We all consider him a close friend and desperately want him to be found."

The coastguard called of the hunt - which also involved Canadian aircraft and three merchant vessels - after searching about 4,000 square miles throughout Friday and Saturday.

A spokesman said the search was halted, amid treacherous weather conditions, after no more transmissions were received from the vessel's personal location GPS beacons.

Mr Bridge's father David told Sky News rescue teams "should give them another chance", while Mr Male's dad Graham added: "They were calm, there was no panic, they knew exactly what they were doing.

"We know from the evidence that has been given to us and from what experienced sailors have been saying ... there's a very good chance they're in the life raft."

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the MP for South West Surrey where Mr Bridge lives, also backed calls for the US Coastguard not to give up.

He tweeted: "Desperate 4 families of missing yachtsman, one from Farnham. I know US Coastguard has done masses but pls don't stop looking. 2 soon 2 give up."

Contact with the Cheeki Rafiki was lost on Friday morning while the yacht was diverting to the Azores.

The capsized hull was spotted by the crew of the Maersk Kure, who did not attempt to climb down to the stricken vessel but insisted there were no signs of life on board and no life raft.