Boat disappears, four found dead

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A family of four set off early Thursday afternoon in a small boat from Melbu in northern Norway. They failed to return, and two persons were found dead Friday morning in the chilly local waters where the boat disappeared. Two more were found later.

Emergency crews had continued to search Friday for both the boat and its missing passengers. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that there were three adults and one child on board the 18.5-foot Bella 572 recreational craft when it sailed from Melbu into the Hadselfjord in Vesterålen between 1pm and 2pm on Thursday.

The search and rescue crews worked throughout the night to locate the boat after it was reported missing. Grete Birkeland, operations leader for the local police, said two persons were found dead at around 8am in the Hadselfjord, just north of the route where a ferry runs between Melbu and Fiskebøl.

Two more persons were found, wearing life vests, by a Coast Guard vessel around 11am.

“All four were found in an area southeast of Melbu,” Kjell Johansen of the search and rescue service told NRK.no. “The boat has not been found, and we presume it sank.”

The first two bodies were taken to Stokmarknes while the search continued with a rescue vessel, personnel from the Coast Guard, and with Norwegian search dogs and the Red Cross along the beaches, Birkeland told NRK. She said the search area included the entire fjord and its coastline.

News bureau NTB reported that friends of the family had contact with them while they were on the boat by mobile phone, but the line was suddenly cut around 2:45pm Thursday.

“We have reason to believe that something happened with the boat around 2:45pm yesterday afternoon,” search crew leader Jakob Carlsen told NTB. “But we don’t know where the boat was, exactly, or what happened.”

The weather in the area was described as good, with a breeze, clear visibility and calm seas. This year’s late Easter has prompted many Norwegians to spend the Easter holidays along the coast and start taking their boats out. The missing boat’s skipper was said to be familiar with the area.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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