Six people are missing and two have been rescued after a cargo ship sank in the Irish Sea early on Sunday in gale force winds off the coast of north Wales, British authorities said.
Holyhead Coastguard said the Swanland cargo ship, with eight people on board and carrying thousands of tons of limestone, sent a mayday call reporting that the vessel’s hull had cracked in poor weather conditions.
“We are very concerned for the safety of the other six crew members. We know that at least some of them are wearing immersion suits and have strobe lighting with them, however sea conditions are challenging at best,” said Jim Green, a coastguard spokesman.
Rescue helicopters from the Royal Air Force base on the Welsh island of Anglesey and from Dublin coastguard base in Ireland were sent to the scene, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of the Llyn peninsula in north Wales.
Two crew members were located and flown to the Anglesey base. Prince William works as an RAF Search and Rescue Force helicopter co-pilot at the base, but it was not immediately clear if he had been involved in the operation.
Helicopters from RAF Chivenor, in southwest England, and the Irish Coastguard are continuing to search for the six missing people, along with boats from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
“Two RNLI lifeboats, along with four search and rescue helicopters and two other commercial boats, are searching for the remaining six crew,” the RNLI said in a statement.
Gale-force winds battered the Irish Sea during Sunday and the coastguard said it is believed this could have caused the incident.