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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer has a new welcome sign at the south end at the new entrance from Hwy 2. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Red Deer ranks 241st on MacLean’s Best Communities list

The list features 415 Canadian communities

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, 66, died Tuesday at Chinook Regional Hospital. (Cornerstone Funeral Home)
Lethbridge doctor becomes 7th Alberta health-care worker to die from COVID-19

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, who was 66, died Tuesday at the Chinook Regional Hospital in the southern Alberta city

A FedEx worker loads the 255,600 doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine which came from Europe into a freezer trailer to be transported during the COVID-19 pandemic at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canada’s incoming supply of Moderna vaccine slashed in half through end of April

Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada’s incoming vaccine supply from Moderna will… Continue reading

Energy Minister Sonya Savage speaks during an event to mark the start of right-of-way construction for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, in Acheson, Alta., Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. A committee that is supposed to consult Albertans on coal development in the Rocky Mountains won't be able to ask questions about water or land use. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta coal consultation terms of reference rule out land use, water concerns

Alberta coal consultation terms of reference rule out land use, water concerns

Brittany Lausen, RDC Students’ Association president. (Advocate file photo).
RDC Students’ Association takes aim at ‘period poverty’ in Red Deer

Vulnerable clients of several non-profits can access free hygiene products

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Former Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair leaves the police station after being charged with two counts of sexual assault dating back to 2014, Friday, May 29, 2020, in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Preliminary inquiry in September for ex-PQ leader Boisclair charged with sex assault

MONTREAL — Former Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair will have a preliminary… Continue reading

Three vials of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine are pictured in a new coronavirus, COVID-19, vaccination center at the Velodrome-Stadium in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Sohn, pool
Trudeau sending help to Ontario as Pfizer vaccine supply bolstered by 8 million doses

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says more doses of COVID-19 vaccines are coming… Continue reading

Teachers demonstrate outside a school during a morning walk out in Longueuil, Que., Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Around 73,000 Quebec teachers say they will walk off the job for several hours on April 27. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
73,000 Quebec teachers plan to walk off the job for more than two hours April 27

MONTREAL — Around 73,000 Quebec teachers say they will walk off the… Continue reading

People line up in the rain for a COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up clinic at the Masjid Darus Salaam in the Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood in Toronto on Sunday, April 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario science advisers urge six-week stay-home order as province pleads for help

TORONTO — Ontario’s science advisers called for a six-week stay-at-home order and… Continue reading

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, 66, died Tuesday at Chinook Regional Hospital. (Cornerstone Funeral Home)
Lethbridge doctor becomes 7th Alberta health-care worker to die from COVID-19

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, who was 66, died Tuesday at the Chinook Regional Hospital in the southern Alberta city

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. Alberta is set to join three other provinces in exploring the feasibility of small modular reactors as a clean energy option. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Students in Alberta town ready to return to school after quarantining

ATHABASCA, Alta. — A superintendent of schools in northern Alberta says the… Continue reading

Britain’s Prince Charles, with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visits the gardens of Marlborough House, London, Thursday April 15, 2021, to look at the flowers and messages left by members of the public outside Buckingham Palace, following the death of Prince Philip. (Jeremy Selwyn/Pool via AP)
Princes William, Harry won’t walk side-by-side at funeral

LONDON — Prince William and Prince Harry won’t walk side-by-side Saturday as… Continue reading

Tilray products such as capsules, oils, and dried marijuana are displayed at their head office in Nanaimo, B.C., on November 29, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Vote by Tilray shareholders on Aphria merger deal delayed until April 30

NANAIMO, B.C. — A vote by Tilray Inc. shareholders on the cannabis… Continue reading

Most Read