Search for mystery skipper of yacht found with engine running but no one on board is called off


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The Independent Online

A large-scale air, land and sea search for the skipper of a yacht, who had set off from Dorset and whose vessel was found beached with its engine still running but with no one on board has been called off.

No sign of the man, named by police as 46-year-old Hany Nabil Mustapha, has been found.

A member of the public discovered his vessel, called Brigand, ashore with one of its sails up near Brighstone on the Isle of Wight.

Mr Mustapha, from Kingston-upon-Thames, south-west London, bought the small yacht in a private sale on Saturday morning and sailed from Poole Yacht Club in Dorset, where it was moored, at 10.05am the same day.

Dorset Police said that Mr Mustapha told staff at the yacht club that he intended to travel over to Hayling Island, near Portsmouth.

But following the discovery of his grounded yacht at 5.15pm on Saturday, a five-hour search was launched involving two Coastguard helicopters and RNLI lifeboats, while broadcasts were made to passing vessels to be alert to objects in the water.

Despite the extensive operation, no sign of anyone was found and it was called off late on Saturday night, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said.

A fresh search began again at around 7am on Sunday morning for the skipper but it was called off again with nothing found about eight hours later.

A Solent Coastguard spokesman said: "The search has been suspended but if we get any new information that prompts us to an area then we will recommence a search."

Mr Mustapha is described as being around 6ft 3in tall, of mid-European appearance with a stocky build. He has short, dark receding hair and a goatee beard. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call Dorset Police on 101.