Page last updated at 12:26 GMT, Thursday, 11 September 2008 13:26 UK

Irish boat sinks off French coast

Asgard II
All crew and trainees have been brought to safety

An Irish government-owned training yacht has sunk in the Bay of Biscay, off the coast of France.

Five crew and 25 trainees on the Asgard II were rescued by the French coastguard after managing to get onto life rafts.

They were taken to a hotel on the nearby island of Belle Isle where they are recovering from their ordeal.

The alarm was first raised at about 0230 BST, but it is not yet known why the vessel got into difficulties.

It had been heading from Falmouth in Cornwall to La Rochelle in France for minor maintenance.

Trainees would pay up to 430 euros to spend a week on board the vessel, which has taken part in Tall Ships events.

The Asgard II visited Belfast in June as part of the city's maritime festival.

It was named after the ship used in 1914 by Erskine Childers to land guns from Germany at Howth in Dublin for Irish rebel forces opposed to British rule.

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