UK & World News

  • 20 May 2014, 5:34

Missing Yachtsmen: 'Give Sailors Another Chance'

Relatives of four yachtsmen missing in the Atlantic Ocean have called for the search to be resumed.

The US Coastguard suspended its air and sea search after 53 hours, having given the men an estimated survival time of 20 hours.

David Bridge, whose son Andrew, 21, is one of the missing men, said the crew had set off a personal locator beacon suggesting they were in a life raft.

He told Sky News: "They need to go out there and carry on searching.They should give them another chance."

Kay Coombes, sister of 52-year-old Steve Warren, said she and their mother Margaret Warren were convinced he was still alive.

She said: "It's an utter nightmare, we are grateful for the US and Canadian coast guards for what they have done so far but it's stopped too soon after two days, it's not long enough, we believe they are still alive."

And Graham Male, whose son James, 23, was also onboard, said the crew would have had time to prepare a life raft.

He told Sky News: "We know from the evidence that has been given to us and from what experienced sailors have been saying out there with the way these guys were equipped there's a very good chance they are in the life raft.

"What we know is that there was water coming into the boat, but at the time they were in communication with their company and if it was that dire a situation they wouldn't have been able to make that sort of communication by email or by satellite.

"They were calm, there was no panic, they knew exactly what they were doing.

"Sometime after that communications were lost, but then being in that situation they would have been in a position to prepare a life raft."

Cressida Goslin, whose 56-year-old husband Paul is the final member of the crew, added: "We don't want to leave any stone unturned, it is a very short window of opportunity - we are realistic."

Contact with the crew was lost in the early hours of Friday while they were diverting to the Azores.

The overturned hull of a yacht matching the description of the Cheeki Rafiki was spotted and photographed by a cargo vessel assisting the search.

It reported there were no signs of life on board and no life raft, however no one from the Greek-registered 1,000ft container ship Maersk Kure tried to climb down to the yacht to check if anyone was trapped alive inside.

The crew was returning from Antigua Sailing Week in the 40ft yacht when it ran into difficulties 620 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

A petition has gathered more than 100,000 signatures pressing for a continuation of the search.

The US Coastguard said it cancelled the search, involving American and Canadian aircraft and three merchant vessels after failing to receive any transmissions from the locator beacons.

A spokesman also defended the actions of the crew of the cargo vessel which spotted what was thought to be the yacht, saying it did not the capabilities to search or pick up the Cheeki Rafiki.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "The US Coastguard has given us assurances that they have conducted a fully exhaustive search."

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