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No sign of yachtsmen, say searchers

The families of four missing British sailors continue to wait anxiously for news about their loved ones as search teams say they have not seen any sign of the men.

The search for the missing crew was resumed on Tuesday afternoon following a public outcry , but despite combing 9,000 square miles of ocean, rescue teams have had no sighting of the life raft, debris or boat.

Captain Anthony Popiel, from the US coastguard, pledged that search teams would continue to hunt for the Britons as if they were "looking for a member of our own family".

Speaking at a press conference in Boston, Massachusetts, he said eight searches had been carried out but "unfortunately, we have had no sightings of a life raft, persons in the water, a sail boat or debris".

He added: "In total, search efforts, since resuming yesterday morning, have exceeded 9,000 square miles of ocean.

"Again, this is a large scale, international search. We are saturating a very large and very remote area of the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, we have had no sightings so far today.

"No decisions have been made regarding suspension of this search. Our focus is on continuing search planning and I can confirm now that we are making plans to have search assets on the scene tomorrow."

The 40ft Cheeki Rafiki was sailing back to the UK from an Antigua regatta when it got into trouble and started taking on water 620 miles east of Cape Cod last Thursday.

The four men - experienced captain Andrew Bridge, 22, from Farnham in Surrey, and crew members James Male, 23, from Southampton, Steve Warren, 52, from Bridgwater, Somerset, and Paul Goslin, 56, from West Camel, Somerset - have not been seen or heard from since the early hours of Friday morning.

The US coastguard controversially called off the search for the men just 48 hours later. But they resumed the operation after a petition signed by politicians, celebrities and top sailors attracted 200,000 signatures.

Aircraft from the US, Canada and the RAF have been combing the area alongside merchant vessels, but so far there is no sign of the missing men.

Capt Popiel praised the international cooperation, adding: "I have been in this profession for 27 years, and I can tell you that we treat every search like we are looking for a member of our own family."

Kay Coombes, the sister of Steve Warren, earlier said: "We are waiting like everybody else and keep checking the internet for updates.

"The last thing we were told was what happened this morning with the coastguard and RAF plane going out. We are just glued to the TV and the phone."

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said: "We are very grateful for the extensive US-led efforts so far and welcome the decision to reopen the search. Every possible effort is being made to find the missing yachtsmen."

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "The RAF's contribution to the search operation for the four missing British sailors will provide additional capability and resilience to the resumed search led by US and Canadian forces.

"We all hope that the extensive resources being provided by our allies and the further support from the UK can help locate the missing yachtsmen as soon as possible."

A search was initially launched after contact with the Cheeki Rafiki was lost in the early hours of Friday when it diverted to the Azores.

A cargo vessel which was helping with the search spotted and photographed an overturned hull which matched the description of the Cheeki Rafiki but reported no signs of people on board or a liferaft.

The families of the missing sailors earlier told of their anxiety at the nervous wait for news.

Cressida Goslin, Mr Goslin's wife, said the families had been through an "emotional rollercoaster" since Friday.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mrs Goslin said hearing that the search would be resumed was "really overwhelming" and had brought "incredible" hope.

"It was wonderful, absolutely wonderful," she said.

She added: "We have got no reason to think they didn't make it to the lifeboat. They had advanced warning that there was a problem with the boat so we think they would have been prepared to evacuate the ship."


From Belfast Telegraph