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Published: Sunday, 3/11/2012

Coast Guard expands search for 4 fishermen

ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEATTLE — The Coast Guard expanded its search area Sunday in an effort to find four people who disappeared from a fishing trawler off the Washington coast, but there was still no sign of them.

A distress signal came from the 70-foot Lady Cecelia early Saturday, and rescue crews searched through the night after finding debris, an empty lifeboat and an oil sheen several miles off the coast.

The Coast Guard expanded its sear area from 640 square miles to 1,350, said Petty Officer Shawn Eggert. A cutter and an MH-60 helicopter crew were involved, and conditions for searching were good.

The fishing vessel has a home port in Warrenton, Ore. and is registered to Dale Kent of Bay City, Ore. He could not immediately be reached by The Associated Press, but the ship’s owner told the Guard that four people had been aboard.

“The life raft was in no condition to be used,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer Shawn Eggert. “There was a lot of debris, a sheen and the (beacon).”

Eggert said early Sunday that the air search was suspended for the night but the 225-foot Coast Guard cutter Fir and the Coast Guard cutter Cuttyhawk were continuing the search through the night.

The Lady Cecelia was first registered in Oregon in 1991. Eggert said he didn’t have details on the debris, or whether the vessel was still intact. He said the Guard does not yet know a cause for the damage.

Overnight weather off the southern Washington coast consisted of a slowly moving front that created moderate waves but not stormy conditions.

A buoy located 20 nautical miles off the Washington coast recorded water temperatures of 43 degrees at 4 a.m. on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard says one of its helicopters brought four people to safety after their commercial vessel went aground near Newport, Ore. The vessel was reported aground on the south jetty at Yaquina Bay about 5 p.m. Saturday.



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