Search for crew suspended after yacht found along with life raft

The US Coast Guard has suspended its search for four missing British crew members, including two from Somerset. They located the Cheeki Rafiki a week after the vessel went missing and later discovered its life raft still secured aboard.

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Search called off after unused life raft found in yacht

Hopes of finding two missing Somerset sailors and their crew mates have all but faded tonight after their capsized yacht was discovered in the Atlantic.

The US coastguard said an unused life raft was found on board and they called off their search in the early hours of this morning.

Today the Prime Minister David Cameron said his thoughts were with the families.

Ken Goodwin reports:

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Prime Minister: 'My thoughts are with the families'

David Cameron thanked those who had taken part in the search Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The Prime Minister has said his thoughts are with families of the crew of the Cheeki Rafiki after the boat's upturned hull was found, with the life raft still in place.

Mr Cameron said: "My thoughts are with the families and friends of the crew of the Cheeki Rafiki after the sad news that its hull has been found with the life raft unused."

He added: "My sincere thanks to the US Coast Guard for leading the international search with great dedication - and to the US Navy, the Canadian authorities and to our own RAF C-130 aircraft who took part in it."

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Chances of finding yacht crew 'non-existent now'

A spokesman for the World Cruising Club, which organises boat races around the world, has said the changes of finding the crew of the Cheeki Rafiki yacht are now "non-existent".

Jeremy Wyatt told the BBC: : "I think we have to be realistic and face facts that they're not in a raft and therefore the chances of finding anyone are non-existent now."

The overturned hull of the Cheeki Rafiki was discovered by a US navy ship. Credit: Handout

"In some ways it's a hard fact, but I think, after a week of searching, it's really the only conclusion you can safely draw," he added.

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US Coast Guard will still cancel search despite hull find

A US Navy warship helicopter crew located the overturned hull of the Cheeki Rafiki 1,000 miles offshore Massachusetts and within the US Coast Guard's search area, Friday.

The warship diverted to the location and deployed a boat crew and surface swimmer to assess the boat.

The surface swimmer confirmed the name on the ship was Cheeki Rafiki and went in the water to investigate further. The swimmer determined the boat's cabin was flooded and windows were shattered, contributing to the complete flooding inside.

The U.S. Coast Guard made an announcement that search operations would be suspended at midnight Friday unless new information or sightings suggested the crew would still be alive. None of the current developments indicate that to be the case.

– US Coastguard statement

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Families won't give up hope in search for missing sailors

The families of two Somerset sailors missing in the Atlantic say they haven't given up hope their loved ones will be found, despite being told the US Coastguard search will end tomorrow morning.

Steve Warren and Paul Goslin were on board the Cheeki Rafiki with two other men when contact was lost a week ago. Their families have been meeting with the Foreign Office today. Clare Forestier has the story.

Family statement released on missing sailors

The Foreign Office have released a statement this lunchtime from the families of the four missing British sailors including two from Somerset. The statement thanks people for their support and says the families will be meeting with the Foreign Office to talk about UK involvement in searches.

The families of James Male, Andrew Bridge, Paul Goslin and Steve Warren still hold out much hope that their loved ones will be found soon. 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.

They are meeting with the Foreign Office later on today, to talk about UK involvement and any other avenues that can be explored.

Having spent the week getting to know each other better, along with hearing the endless accounts of survivors, the families are reassured that their men would work as an efficient and cohesive team. This gives them additional hope that they will still be found, as the US Coast Guard have found no evidence to the contrary.

– Family Statement, Foreign Office
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