MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A yacht carrying two Britons, an American, a Canadian and a Filipino disappeared while sailing in waters that were lashed by a storm last week, the Philippine coast guard said Tuesday.
A coast guard search team on a plane Tuesday spotted what appeared to be a floating body, orange objects and an oil slick in the high seas about 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of the northwestern Philippine city of Laoag, but it has yet to confirm if they were from the yacht Europa, coast guard spokesman Cmdr. Armand Balilo said. Hong Kong and the Philippines have dispatched planes and alerted ships in the area.
The British embassy in Manila confirmed two of its nationals were on board. “We are liaising urgently with the local authorities concerning search and rescue operations and providing support to the families,” it said in a statement.
The 18.2-meter (60-foot) yacht left Hong Kong on Thursday and was supposed to arrive in Subic Bay northwest of Manila not later than Monday. An emergency position-indicating radio beacon on the boat was activated Saturday, indicating the vessel was experiencing difficulties, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club said in a statement.
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Hong Kong’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre dispatched a search plane and passing ships were asked to be on the lookout but “no yacht, life raft or debris was detected,” the club said. Hong Kong and the Philippines deployed one aircraft each to continue a coordinated search on Tuesday, it added.
The Hong Kong-registered yacht was owned and skippered by Robin Wyatt and had four crewmembers who were all experienced sailors, according to the club. The Philippine coast guard identified Wyatt as one of the two Britons on the Europa.
A tropical storm, 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, including many who ventured out to sea from the northwestern Philippine provinces of Pangasinan and La Union despite warnings of rough seas, Manila’s Office of Civil Defense said.
Many sailed back safely after taking shelter somewhere and others were rescued, but a few dozen remain missing, officials said.
Associated Press writer Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong contributed to this report.