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Storm Miguel: Three dead after rescue boat capsizes during operation off French coast

Fishing vessel still missing as 75mph winds hit Pays de la Loire

Zamira Rahim
Friday 07 June 2019 15:37 BST
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The National Society of Sea Rescue boat after it capsized
The National Society of Sea Rescue boat after it capsized (AFP/Getty)

Three people have died after a rescue boat capsized as Storm Miguel struck the west coast of France.

Seven crew members were travelling on the National Society of Sea Rescue (SNSM) boat when it overturned on Friday.

The group were trying to assist a fishing vessel caught in the middle of the storm when the accident occurred near Les Sables D’olonne, a beach town in Vendee.

Benoit Brocart, the prefect of Vendee, said the four other crew members were safe.

The fishing vessel has yet to be found and a major rescue operation is underway to locate it.

Mr Brocart said three helicopters and dozens of additional rescue workers were searching for the fishing boat’s crew off France’s Atlantic coast.

The SNSM, which is mainly staffed by volunteers, is one of France’s major rescue organisations and describes itself as the only one dedicated to sea rescue.

“The town of Sables d’Olonne is in shock,” said Yannick Moreau, the town’s mayor.

Francois de Rugy, France’s minister for ecology, also paid tribute to the victims on Twitter and said the tragedy was a “reminder of their courage”.

“The patrol boat capsized as they rescued a fishing boat in the middle of Storm Miguel,” he said.

“The tragedy is a reminder of their courage to rescue the sailors in danger.”

“It reminds us of the risks that our volunteers take every day to rescue people in difficulty at sea,” Xavir de La Gorce, the president of SNSM, said.

Meteo France, the country’s forecaster, issued orange weather warnings for 10 areas near the country’s west cost as Storm Miguel made landfall in France on Friday.

The orange alert is the forecaster’s second highest warning level.

Winds travelling up to 75mph have hit the coast as the storm continues.

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The SNSM had earlier warned people to avoid seaside areas during the storm.

Meteo France has asked people in the region to remain vigilant and to follow the government’s safety advice.

Additional reporting by agencies

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