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French fishermen missing in Channel

FALMOUTH, England, Jan 16 (AFP) – A Royal Navy helicopter was to search Friday for three French fishermen missing since their trawler sank off the southwestern English coast, a Coast Gaurd official said.

The bodies of two other crewmen aboard the Bugaled Breizh, a fishing vessel based in Loctudy, western France, have been found along with two empty rafts, the official said.

“The Culrose searching rescue helicopter is going back to the area of the sinking this morning to do another search of the area … I think it is around 1030 this morning, they should be back there,”. Martin Collins, of the Coast Guard headquarters in Southampton, southern England, told AFP.

“The weather has very much improved from (what) it was yesterday. The visibility and the sea state is very much better than yesterday,” he added.

But Collins noted that various rescue ships which were sent to the area Thursday had now called off their search.

“After this length of time they don’t think there is much hope of finding anybody alive. They covered this area very very well yesterday, they had two helicopters and 13 vessels searching the area,” he noted.

The Bugaled Breizh, a 24-meter (75-foot) trawler, sank in heavy seas whipped by gale-force winds 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the Cornwall coast after sending a distress signal at 1238 GMT Thursday.

British and French authorities have opened an investigation to determine the cause of the sinking, the French transport ministry said Thursday.


                                Subject: France news