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HK yacht lost off Ilocos

A YACHT crewed by four Westerners and a Filipino is feared sunk after Typhoon “Mujigae’’ hit the South China Sea last week, the Philippine coastguard said Tuesday.

An unidentified body and a life jacket were spotted Tuesday on an oil-slicked sea near the 18.2-meter  Europa’s last known position, said coastguard spokesman Commander Armand Balilo.

“A Philippine coastguard auxiliary plane... found indications that the yacht sank at the vicinity,” he said in an interview on local ABS-CBN television network.

“They saw a lifeless body floating and a life jacket and traces of oil.”

He said Hong Kong’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Center told the Filipino agency it has sent three vessels to search the area, 426 kilometers west of the northern Philippine city of Laoag.

Balilo’s office issued a statement naming the missing crew members as Britons Robin Wyatt and Brian Turner, Alan Lundy of the United States, Canadian Harry Taylor and Filipino Rudulph Bolloloz.

The yacht had apparently been trying to steer clear of the storm and was heading toward the city of Vigan 70 kilometres south of Laoag, it added.

A Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club statement said the Hong Kong-registered boat was owned by Wyatt, whom it described as a yacht broker and experienced sailor who had hoped to reach the Filipino port of Subic Bay on Monday.

“The boat is new and on board are the skipper Robin Wyatt and four other crew members, all of whom are very experienced seamen; each having crossed the [South] China Sea a number of times,” it added.

Mujigae killed seven people after hitting southern China on Sunday.

Balilo said the storm earlier killed three people in the Philippines while 13 fishermen are missing.

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