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Thursday, 28 June, 2001, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Yacht captain faces shipwreck charges
Map showing location of Greek island Skyros
Captain Neil Lockwood's yacht went down off Skyros
The British captain of a sailing boat is due to appear in court charged with causing a shipwreck through negligence.

Neil Lockwood was arrested after the crew of the boat he was piloting was rescued in the Aegean Sea near Greece.

A passing Turkish cargo ship pulled eight people from the waterlogged ship on Wednesday as it began to sink, according to the Greek merchant marine ministry.

Neither Mr Lockwood, 57, nor his seven passengers, including an Australian and a South African, were injured.

Mayday call

Mr Lockwood from Ditchling, Sussex, is being held by port police on charges of causing a shipwreck through negligence, ministry officials said.

Authorities said it appeared the boat, named Scanhalla, had hit an object while sailing on Tuesday afternoon, but Mr Lockwood had allegedly not correctly assessed possible damage.

The yacht had been sailing about 54 kilometres south east of the central Aegean island of Skyros when it issued a mayday call.

Weather conditions in the area were not reported to be bad.

Coastguard assistance

The cargo ship, the Pazar, had been sailing about three-and-a-half kilometres from the yacht and rescued the eight people.

They were taken to the nearby island of Evia by a Skyros coastguard vessel.

The passengers were identified as five Greeks - including two boys aged 10 and 14 - Diniel Pate, 80, from Australia and Makwabe Siya, 19, from South Africa.

The Scanhalla set sail on Sunday 24 June from the port of Kalamaki near Athens, heading for the central Aegean island of Skiathos, the merchant marine ministry said.

A spokesman for the UK Foreign Office confirmed Mr Lockwood was being held in custody after he was arrested and charged.

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