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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 February 2007, 13:33 GMT
Man killed when vessel capsized
Graphic of the area
A man has died after a yacht capsized in the English Channel off the south Devon Coast.

Four other crew members were later found in a life raft after the Hooligan Five sank on Saturday, more than a mile off Prawle Point near Salcombe.

An air and sea rescue operation was launched after a merchant ship spotted a distress flare.

A Marine Accident Investigation Branch inquiry will look into reports that the boat capsized after losing its keel.

Two RNLI lifeboats, Sea King rescue helicopters, Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels Wave Knight and Wave Ruler, and HMS Portland were involved in the rescue of crew from the Solent-registered yacht.

'Missing person'

The four were airlifted to hospital in Plymouth suffering from slight hypothermia, where they are said to be recovering well.

Salcombe lifeboat found the body of the missing crew member in the water, an RNLI spokeswoman said.

She told BBC News: "After a detailed search with lots of facilities including two RNLI lifeboats one ship noticed a lifejacket in the water.

"Salcombe lifeboat crew went to investigate and sadly we found the missing person and they had not made it."

Coastguards said attempts to recover the wreck of the yacht had so far failed.

Torbay lifeboat was trying to tow to port when it broke free. It is semi-submerged and is expected to sink.

The spokesman said further efforts may be made to recover the vessel and shipping in the area would be warned of its presence.

Peter Hodges, of Salcombe Lifeboat, said: "The keel completely parted company with the boat.

"Either the keel must have struck an underwater obstruction or else there would have been a fault with the boat and the attachment of the keel to the boat. One of those two things must have happened."

A Department of Transport spokeswoman said: "The MAIB is sending a team to Devon to conduct a preliminary examination of the incident."


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