Policeman dies in yacht rescue bid

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A Cypriot policeman died and a woman is missing after a yacht with a Russian couple and two young children on board capsized in rough seas just off the island's coast, an official said today.

Police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos said officer Andreas Georgiou, 29, died during a pre-dawn rescue attempt when his inflatable craft also capsized as he tried to reach the stricken vessel.

Another police officer, who was with Mr Georgiou during the rescue, survived by clinging on to the craft and was pulled to safety by a police helicopter, Mr Katsounotos said.

The yacht got into trouble at around 3am about 200m off the south-eastern coastal resort of Paphos.

Mr Katsounotos said rescuers found the couple's 10-month-old daughter and three-year-old son alive on the yacht after it washed ashore near Paphos's small harbour.

He said authorities were alerted after the children's 30-year-old father managed to swim to shore. A search for their 31-year-old mother is continuing.

The father and children were taken to a hospital and are recovering from hypothermia but are doing well, Mr Katsounotos said.

Police have not released the names of the Russian family.

Mr Katsounotos said the boat had set sail from Finike on Turkey's southern coast, about 152 miles north-west of the island.