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Fears grow for Britons after yacht goes missing in South China Sea

Published 07/10/2015

The yacht had left Hong Kong to sail to the Philippines
The yacht had left Hong Kong to sail to the Philippines

Fears are growing for the safety of five people including two Britons who remain missing in the South China Sea.

Rescuers are searching for the group after the yacht they were sailing from Hong Kong to the Philippines went missing during a typhoon.

The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club named the missing Britons as Robin Wyatt and Brian Turner.

Canadian Harry Taylor, American Alan Lundy and Rudolph Bollozos from the Philippines were also on board, the club said.

The Foreign Office said it was "liaising urgently" with local authorities after the 60ft vessel disappeared as it travelled to Subic Bay, north west of Manila.

The Philippines coastguard said it had spotted what appeared to be a floating body, orange objects and an oil slick from the air, about 250 miles from the city of Laoag.

However it has not been confirmed if they were from the Europa yacht, spokesman Armand Balilo said.

Mr Wyatt, who lives in the Philippines, was a yacht broker and an "experienced offshore sailor", the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club said.

In a statement, the club said: "The boat is new and on board are the skipper Robin Wyatt and four other crew members, all of whom are very experienced seamen, each having crossed the China Sea a number of times."

An emergency radio beacon was activated on the yacht on Saturday, indicating it was experiencing difficulties, the club added.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We can confirm a yacht with two British nationals on board has gone missing between Hong Kong and Subic Bay.

"We are liaising urgently with the local authorities concerning search and rescue operations and providing support to the families."

The Philippines coastguard said the Europa disappeared as Tropical Storm Mujigae hit the region. The vessel left Hong Kong on Thursday and failed to arrive in Subic Bay as expected over the weekend.

According to its website, Europa Yachts Ltd was founded by Mr Wyatt in Hong Kong in 2012 before the company expanded into the Philippines.

Mr Wyatt has 25 years' experience selling new and second hand yachts across Asia, it added.

Mujigae blew out of the northern Philippines on Saturday and intensified at sea into a powerful typhoon before slamming into the southern Chinese province of Guangdong the following day. At least 10 people were killed in the two countries, Chinese and Philippine authorities said.

More than 200 Filipino fishermen were reported missing in Mujigae's aftermath, and a few dozen are still unaccounted for, officials said.

There have been "no sightings" of the missing yacht and its emergency radio beacon has now stopped transmitting, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club said.

The yacht was on a delivery trip to Subic Bay when it activated its emergency beacon shortly before 8.30pm local time on Saturday.

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