Crews search for three missing sailors; one dies, five rescued

YARMOUTH, N.S. — When the crew of a Cormorant helicopter saw the bright flash of a distress flare beam up from the churning seas below in pre-dawn darkness Tuesday morning, they looked down to see a man frantically waving and signalling for help.

YARMOUTH, N.S. — When the crew of a Cormorant helicopter saw the bright flash of a distress flare beam up from the churning seas below in pre-dawn darkness Tuesday morning, they looked down to see a man frantically waving and signalling for help.

The six-man crew hovered above the disabled yacht that had hours earlier issued a distress call after the boat ran into trouble at about 10:30 p.m. Monday in the Atlantic Ocean off Nova Scotia’s southwest coast.

Lt.-Col. Guy Leblanc, co-pilot of the Cormorant, said a technician was lowered down to the small sailboat as 10-metre swells and winds gusting up to 90 kilometres an hour whipped up the waters around them sometime after they arrived at 3 a.m.

“There were pretty demanding conditions for my crew,” he said in an interview from 14 Wing Greenwood before heading off for some food and sleep.

“We made it work, but it was not pretty and it was very demanding.”

There were nine people in total on the yacht, with Leblanc saying the three he took on board appeared to be in their 40s and were from Russia, Ukraine and Georgia.

Three of the men were taken aboard the tanker FSL Hamburg, which was headed to Saint John, N.B. A military official in Halifax said they were able to get on the tanker because they weren’t injured, but stayed on site to make sure the others were rescued by the Cormorant.

The search continued Tuesday for the three missing sailors who were not thought to be wearing survival suits in the frigid waters when they went overboard at about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Maj. Paule Poulin of the Halifax search-and-rescue centre said the yacht was drifting about 150 kilometres south of Cape Sable Island when officials received an emergency call.

“Time is of the essence,” Poulin said.

Military officials said they do not know where the vessel was from, where it was going or what it was doing at sea at the time it sent the distress call.

Sub-Lt. Tania Meloni of the search-and-rescue centre said crews were contending with low cloud while searching for the missing men. Meloni said they were reportedly wearing life-jackets.

A Cormorant, Hercules and a Canadian Coast Guard cutter were scanning the area, but had not spotted any sign of the men by late Tuesday afternoon.

Leblanc’s crew hoisted all three men onto the helicopter, with two suffering from hypothermia, broken bones and cuts. The third was unresponsive and later pronounced dead at hospital.

Leblanc said the survivors spoke very little after they were lifted aboard and wrapped in blankets to try to warm them up, though one man showed his appreciation for the difficult rescue.

“He was smiling and just kept saying, ’Thank you very much,’ ” he said. “He didn’t talk about where they were going or what they were doing out there.”

The two injured and the body of the dead man were taken to a hospital in Yarmouth, N.S.

Fraser Mooney, a spokesman at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital, said the two injured men arrived by ambulance sometime before 8 a.m. after being flown to the local airport.

He said they were in fair condition, but couldn’t release details about their identities or ages.

— By Alison Auld in Halifax

Just Posted

Much left to fight for beyond legalization, pot activists say as they mark 4-20

TORONTO — Cannabis activists say although this year’s 4-20 celebrations across the… Continue reading

Spring book sale this weekend in Red Deer

Red Deerians can get lost in a world of inexpensive books this… Continue reading

Alabama mail-bomber the oldest executed in US modern times

ATMORE, Ala. — An Alabama man convicted of sending mail bombs during… Continue reading

Trudeau ends three-country tour with his global reputation, alliances intact

LONDON — Justin Trudeau is heading home from a lengthy, three-country foreign… Continue reading

Central Alberta wildlife rehab facility not prepared to take orphaned bear cubs, yet

It’s been about eight years since the Medicine River Wildlife Centre was… Continue reading

WATCH: Fine wine and food at Red Deer College

The Red Deer College Alumni Association hosted its 14th annual Fine Wine… Continue reading

Woman who lost pink house, court case seeks box office win

WASHINGTON — Susette Kelo’s Supreme Court case now has a Hollywood ending,… Continue reading

Recent retail sales far weaker than initial estimates, revisions suggest

OTTAWA — Canadian retail sales during the crucial holiday shopping season were… Continue reading

U.S. woman sentenced to life in Valentine’s Day shooting plot at mall

HALIFAX — An American woman who plotted to go on a Valentine’s… Continue reading

Alabama mail-bomber the oldest executed in US modern times

ATMORE, Ala. — An Alabama man convicted of sending mail bombs during… Continue reading

The Latest: It was Putin call that had Trump fuming at Flynn

WASHINGTON — The Latest on former FBI Director James Comey’s memos (all… Continue reading

Trudeau ends three-country tour with his global reputation, alliances intact

LONDON — Justin Trudeau is heading home from a lengthy, three-country foreign… Continue reading

Boston’s Tuukka Rask, Riley Nash step up in Game 4 win over Leafs

Bruins 3 Maple Leafs 1 TORONTO — The Boston Bruins didn’t need… Continue reading

Supreme Court ruling corks B.C. vintners’ hopes for free trade of Canadian wines

VANCOUVER — The Supreme Court of Canada ruling upholding interprovincial trade laws… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month