Five French feared dead in Malta boat accident

Five French feared dead in Malta boat accident
File photo of the coast of Gozo: Michael Borg (Fuji HS20EXR)/Flickr
Five French tourists were feared dead on Wednesday after their boat apparently capsized in stormy seas in Malta, where rescuers have recovered three unidentified bodies.

US Navy and Italian coast guard aircraft joined in the increasingly desperate search for five French tourists off Gozo, one of three islands that make up the Maltese archipelago.

The five had been on their way back by boat on Sunday to their yacht, El Pirata, after dinner on shore during a Mediterranean cruise, witnesses said.

Rescuers said they had recovered the bodies of two women wearing life jackets on Tuesday and the body of a man on Wednesday and that they believe they are three of the five people missing.

The man's body was plucked from the water by a Maltese army helicopter in the area, where strong winds made the search more difficult.

The capsized boat has also been found.

"We are still in the process of identifying but we have no other reports of missing people," said a spokesman for Maltese military, which is in charge of coast guard operations in the island nation.

Maltese officials named the five as Marie Grimaud, 38, Philippe Grimaud, 41, Sandrine Gaudet, 36, Elias Chonouni, 49 and his 14-year-old son Eli.

The news website Malta Today reported that Malta is in contact with French authorities.

The yacht was moored off the picturesque village of Dwejra in Gozo. The alarm was raised on Monday by the yacht's skipper, a Spaniard, who had remained on board the vessel.

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