UK & World News

  • 23 May 2014, 17:36

Missing Yachtsmen: 'Still Hope' As Search Ends

The families of four British sailors missing in the Atlantic say they "still hold out much hope" their loved ones will be found despite the search being only hours from ending.

Relatives of Steve Warren, 52, Andrew Bridge, 22, James Male, 23, and Paul Goslin, 56, said they have received strong support from the public and have been told "endless stories" of people surviving for months at sea.

They spoke out after the US Coast Guard said the hunt will be called off if the seamen are not found by midnight on Friday - 5am on Saturday UK time.

Captain Anthony Popiel said he had phoned the men's families to tell them the news.

He added: "It is only after deepest consideration that we suspend active search efforts."

A statement issued by the Foreign Office on behalf of the families said they "still hold out much hope that their loved ones will be found soon".

It added: "They have received so much support from the public and the yachting community, hearing endless stories of people that have survived many weeks and months in different circumstances at sea and have drawn much strength from this.

"They were obviously 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."

Debris was found in the search area on Thursday, but Captain Popiel said none of the objects located so far match the missing yacht.

The four men were on board a 40ft yacht when it ran into difficulties a week ago while returning to the UK from a regatta in Antigua.

An initial search for the stricken vessel was called off on Sunday amid bad weather in the Atlantic Ocean, but began again on Tuesday after pressure from the men's families.

More than 200,000 people signed a petition demanding the operation be resumed and the families of the four sailors have written to US President Barack Obama to thank him for his support.

The search, around 1,000 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, includes commercial vessels as well as aircraft from the US Coast Guard, the US Air Force, the Canadian military and the RAF.

More than 17,500 square miles of ocean have been covered since the search resumed three days ago.

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