Hunt for UK sailors in Atlantic to end if no sightings

May 24, 2014 - 1:17:57 am

LONDON: A search for four British sailors missing in the Atlantic Ocean after their yacht capsized a week ago was be called off by midnight yesterday if no sign of the men is found, British and US authorities said.

The four yachtsmen went missing a week ago as they were returning to Britain from a sailing event in Antigua in the Caribbean and reported that their vessel, the Cheeki Rafiki, was taking on water, forcing them to change course for the Azores.

US authorities abandoned a search after two days due to treacherous conditions but resumed the hunt on Tuesday after a request from the British government and a public petition.

Captain Anthony Popiel from the US Coast Guard said there had been no sign of the men so far and debris found in the area of the search about 1,000 miles off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, was not from the missing yacht.

He said the search that had covered more than 17,540sq miles since Tuesday would be called off by midnight yesterday if there were no further developments to indicate search efforts would locate the crew alive.

A spokeswoman from Britain’s foreign office said a British military aircraft helping in the search that has involved US  and Canadian air crews, a US navy warship and commercial vessels, would also continue the search for another day. “The US Coast Guard has gone above and beyond in the search for the Cheeki Rafiki,” the spokeswoman said.

Relatives had hoped that the men, all experienced sailors, had escaped the 40-foot yacht on a life raft after it started taking on water.