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Search goes on for Russian sailors missing in Irish sea

THE search for five missing Russian seamen was underway again today in the Irish Sea.

The five went missing when their cargo ship, the Swanland, broke in two and sank in gale-force winds off north Wales early yesterday.

Two men in a life-raft were airlifted to safety by an RAF Sea King helicopter co-piloted by Britain's Prince William.

Another person was later recovered from the sea by an Irish Coastguard helicopter and pronounced dead.

Today, the search for the men's bodies -- they are all feared to have died -- was concentrated along the Welsh coastline.

The huge rescue effort was coordinated by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency and saw a major Irish involvement yesterday.

The Naval Service ship, the LE Roisin, left Dublin Bay to join the search, while an Air Corps CASA maritime patrol plane was diverted from a sea patrol and sent to the scene of the sinking.


Three Irish Coastguard S-61 helicopters were also tasked by Holyhead Coast Guard in one of the biggest joint rescues undertaken by Irish and British rescue agencies in the Irish Sea.

An Irish Coastguard spokes-man said today that there were no Irish rescue assets involved in today's search: the LE Roisin had been "released" from the search.

However, a spokeswoman for the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency said they would be searching roughly 105 miles of shoreline from Holyhead to Aberdovey using coastguard rescue teams and the RAF search and rescue helicopter from RAF Valley in Anglesey.

Yesterday, the Irish rescue aircraft and ships worked with RAF Valley and Chivenor search and rescue helicopters and RNLI lifeboats from Pwllheli and Porthdinllaen, along with other ships in the area.

The Irish helicopters refuelled at RAF Valley while taking part in the search.

The ship is believed to have sunk in about 15 minutes after it was hit by a giant wave.

Five of the crew were on deck and three were below, including the captain, engineer and first mate.

It is believed they had no time to escape and were among the five still missing today.