North West Wales

Search for crew of sunken Swanland to resume

An air-sea search is continuing for five men missing from a sunken cargo carrier off north-west Wales.

Emergency services returned at 07:30 GMT on Monday to the area of the Irish Sea where the ship sank after breaking in two on Sunday.

Two of the Swanland's Russian crew who were plucked from a life-raft by an RAF helicopter early on Sunday were named as Roman Savin and Vitaliy Karpenko.

The body of another crew member, Leonid Sapunov, was found later.

But a search by lifeboats and aircraft discovered no trace of the rest.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the missing sailors were wearing immersion suits at the time of the sinking which would have "greatly increased" their chances of survival.

The search was called off at 16:45 GMT on Sunday after beginning at about 02:00, when a mayday call was received from the 81m (265ft) coaster and its Russian-speaking crew.

Image caption The Swanland came close to grounding on rocks off Cornwall last year

One of the two survivors reported that the ship was struggling in gale force winds when it was struck by an "enormous" wave about 10 miles west of the Lleyn peninsula.

Holyhead coastguards said the vessel disappeared from the radar screen at 02:20 and said a crew member told them it had been rolled over by the wave, breaking its back.

Search conditions improved during the day but a large amount of debris was found at the search location 30 miles north-west of the Lleyn peninsula.

One life-raft was found near Bardsey island off the peninsula, but it was empty.

Prince William, who is a helicopter co-pilot at RAF Valley on Anglesey, took part in the rescue of the two survivors.

Spotter plane

Both men were taken to hospital in nearby Bangor as a precaution and later discharged.

Irish rescue helicopters also participated in the operation as well as a spotter plane.

The RNLI launched the Porth Dinllaen and Pwllheli lifeboats in the early hours. Holyhead's all-weather lifeboat joined the search in the afternoon.

The MCA said on Monday that 11 coastguard resource boats, a North Wales Police helicopter and a search and rescue helicopter from RAF Valley are involved.

They are searching an area of coastline stretching about 105 miles from Holyhead to Aberdovey.

The Swanland, a regular visitor to the area, was carrying rock that was loaded at the Llanddulas jetty near Abergele and was en route to Cowes, Isle of Wight.

In August 2010, the ship came close to grounding on rocks off the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall after the engines failed.

According to one shipspotting website, the vessel was built in the Netherlands and is managed by a company, Torbulk, in Grimsby.

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