Search ends for men missing in storm

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Three Icelandic fishermen remained missing and were presumed dead on Thursday after their boat sank in stormy seas about 270 kilometers northwest of Norway’s West Cape at Stad on Wednesday. The storm, meanwhile, halted helicopter traffic to several oil rigs in the North Sea.

Search and rescue officials said there was no chance of finding the three men alive, because they weren’t believed to have been wearing survival suits when their fishing vessel disappeared. One of the four men on board the vessel was rescued.

The Norwegian coast guard vessel KV Bergen was on its way to the spot where the boat is believed to have sunk, but the weather worsened Thursday morning with winds reaching hurricane strength. The vessel was thus forced to wait until the weather improved, delaying efforts to find either the Icelandic boat or the three missing men.

Jan Lillebø, leader of the search effort from emergency unit Hovedredningssentralen Sør-Norge, told news bureau NTB that “hope has run out for finding the men alive.” He said the search now was to find the wreckage and, possible, the men’s bodies.

The first alarms were received from the Icelandic boat, reportedly built in 1974 and on its way to a scrapyard, at around 2:30pm on Wednesday. A 36-year-old man who was wearing a survival suit was rescued around 6pm and taken to hospital in Ålesund. He reportedly said the three others on board had either not donned survival suits or that they were leaking. All of them were believed to be in their 60s. Water temperatures in the area are around 2C.

Two helicopters took part in the search but had to return for refueling and because of dangerous conditions. A surveillance aircraft from the Norwegian Air Force and another fishing vessel also took part in the search. Waves were reported to be as high as 15 meters (more than 45 feet) in the area.

Statoil also suspended helicopter traffic to oil and gas installations in the North Sea because of the storm. More than 30 departures from Flesland airport at Bergen to the Gullfaks, Statfjord and Oseberg fields were cancelled.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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