Rescuers search for bodies after ship capsizes

Four missing in tragedy off French coast
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Rescue workers began a grim search for bodies today around a steamer that capsized off France's Atlantic coast, but there was little hope of finding four missing seamen alive.

Rescue workers began a grim search for bodies today around a steamer that capsized off France's Atlantic coast, but there was little hope of finding four missing seamen alive.

One survivor, the ship's mechanic, was rescued late yesterday after rescue workers heard sounds of knocking from inside the hull of the "Iles du Ponant." They drilled a hole in the hull and three divers were able to extract the man, who was evacuated by helicopter.

But the search was abandoned when it appeared certain there were no other survivors. Massive damage to one part of the 30-metre vessel made a full search impossible.

Early today, a helicopter with an infrared camera flew over the still-choppy sea off the town of Le Croisic. Five patrol boats were also searching for the bodies.

The ship, which was carrying neither passengers nor freight, is stranded upside down some 500 metres off the coast. It overturned while sailing from the Atlantic coastal island of Belle-Ile to Saint-Nazaire, during strong winds, sometime on Tuesday night.

It was not immediately clear whether the missing men were in the boat or had drowned when the ship capsized. The exact cause of the accident was not clear.

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