Hopes have been dashed for the safe return of four missing British sailors after US Navy divers found an unused life raft stowed away in their capsized yacht, the Cheeki Rafiki.
The four yachtsmen got into trouble while sailing in the Atlantic Ocean over eight days ago before searches were suspended.
Taking into account the extreme weather conditions, the US Coast guard predicted the missing men’s survival time would have been ‘approximately 20 hours’.
The crew had been sailing back to the UK from a regatta in Antigua in the 40ft (12m) Cheeki Rafiki when they got into trouble 620 miles east of Cape Cod.
The capsized vessel was finally spotted about 1,000 miles east of Cape Cod by a US Navy Helicopter.
US Navy surface swimmers found the cabin to be completely flooded with smashed windows.
The hunt for the missing men encompassed nearly 25,000 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean, involving the efforts of US, Canadian and UK military search teams, as well as a large number of commercial vessels and volunteer yacht crews.
Foreign Office minister Hugh Robertson, on announcing the suspension of search efforts, said: ‘My sincere condolences go out to the families of James Male, Andrew Bridge, Steve Warren and Paul Goslin at this very difficult and distressing time.’
24 May 2014 | 9:29 am – Source: metro.co.uk