Missing yacht: bodies found in North Sea

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The Independent Online

Three bodies were found in the North Sea off the Dutch coast yesterday. Two were identified as Carol Smith, 23, and Adam Clarkson, 58, who were aboard the missing yacht Tulia, which disappeared in the area two weeks ago.

Three bodies were found in the North Sea off the Dutch coast yesterday. Two were identified as Carol Smith, 23, and Adam Clarkson, 58, who were aboard the missing yacht Tulia, which disappeared in the area two weeks ago.

A third body found at the same time has yet to be identified, but is believed to be another member of the four-man crew from the Oxford University Cruising Club.

The yacht went missing while travelling back to England from the Dutch port of Ijmuiden and its disappearance sparked a major sea search involving five spotter planes, a helicopter and seven lifeboats from Britain, Belgium and Holland. The search covered 3,000 nautical square miles.

The alarm had been raised by concerned relatives of the students, novice sailors who had taken the trip in order to gain qualifications.

The decision to call off the hunt after a week with no sign of the boat or its crew prompted hundreds of angry callers to jam coastguard phonelines, pleading for the hunt to be resumed. Another search was then conducted with a radar equipped plane

The three bodies were finally spotted yesterday by the crew of a fishing boat close to the island of Texel. The Dutch coastguard sent two helicopters and 14 lifeboats to the scene to search for the still missing fourth body. The news was broken to the missing sailors' families yesterday morning.

The mother of Carol Smith, from Tamworth, Staffordshire, said she and her 15-year-old daughter Isa had been clinging to a "glimmer of a possible miracle" over the past fortnight.

Also called Carol, she said: "This is what I'd feared and what I'd secretly hoped wasn't going to happen. In a way it's relief, in the long-run, not today. Today it just seems cruel. But knowing what has happened will ultimately make it easier to come to terms with."

Mr Clarkson was the Tulia's owner and the only experienced sailor on board.

Barry Goldsworthy, deputy district controller of Thames Coastguard, said that the cause of the incident which led to the deaths is still unknown. "No evidence has surfaced as yet as to the cause of the accident. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with all of the families at this time," he said.

The Tulia left Ijmuiden bound for the river Orwell near Harwich on Tuesday 25 July but no contact was made after Friday that week.

The initial search for the boat was substantial. However the efforts of an RAF Nimrod aircraft patrolling British waters was at times hampered by poor visibility.

Fears grew when debris was found on the yacht's expected route. Cushions, the same colour as those on board the yacht, were found floating off the Dutch coast.

Relatives of the missing students were critical of the decision to call off the search, saying that it was made prematurely.

Peter Chew, the father of crew member James Chew, was proved tragically correct after he had suggested during the search that the rescue team was spending too much time searching near the coast of England. He had strongly urged the Coastguard to concentrate on the Dutch side of the North Sea.

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