May 22 - U.S. Coast Guard Captain Popiel says, ''If by midnight tomorrow there are no further developments to indicate search efforts would locate the (Cheeki Rafiki) crew alive, we will suspend the search.'' Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The search continued on Thursday (May 22) for four British sailors on board a yacht that went missing in the waters of the Atlantic last week. But Captain Anthony Popiel of the U.S. Coast guard says operations will be suspended by Friday (May 23) at midnight (EST), if search crews fail to make headway in their search mission. "If by midnight tomorrow, there are no further developments to indicate search efforts would locate the crew alive, we will suspect the search. Our focus right now, however, remains with this very active, and very dynamic search. We will always put forth utmost efforts to find and rescue those in peril at sea. It is only after deepest consideration that we suspend active search efforts," Popiel, the Chief of Response for the Fist Coast Guard District, told reporters. Earlier, crew members of a volunteer search vessel reported seeing debris in the search area, but the U.S. Coast Guard said that debris did not belong to the missing yacht, the Cheeki Rafiki. "Unfortunately, we have had no sighting thus far, and have concluded that none of the debris, or objects located during the search have correlated to the Cheeki Rafiki," Captain Popiel added. "In total, efforts since resuming the search have covered more than 17,500 square miles (28,164 kilometers) of ocean," he went on to say. The crew members on board Cheeki Rafiki went missing on Friday (May 16) as they were returning to Britain from a sailing event in Antigua in the Caribbean and reported that the vessel was taking on water, forcing them to change course for the Azores. The U.S. Coast Guard, supported by U.S. and Canadian air forces, had mounted a search about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, but called it off on Sunday due to treacherous conditions, saying there was little chance of finding them. But U.S. authorities resumed the hunt on Tuesday after a public appeal backed by British politicians and billionaire Richard Branson not to give up on finding the yachtsmen just yet.