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No sign of Americans missing after being caught in typhoon

Date Posted: 2008-10-03

A search for four Americans missing since Typhoon Jangmi pounded their yacht Sunday near Ishigaki continues under supervision of the Japan Coast Guard.

Debris believed to be part of the Jade Princess has been spotted roughly 40 miles northwest of the spot where a Coast Guard spokesman says the initial distress call was triggered Sunday morning. Spokesman Takamichi Higa says there’s no sign of the four men aboard the yacht, which was sailing from Malaysia to Okinawa when it encountered typhoon force winds and high seas near the prefecture’s southernmost islands.

Higa says the Japan Coast Guard was advised a rescue raft was aboard the yacht, but says searchers have not found it yet. Higa says officials are still hopeful of finding the four alive.
While Japan’s Coast Guard is running the search, the U.S. Navy aided efforts Monday with a Kadena Air Base based P-3 Orion aircraft. The U.S. Coast Guard is available to assist, as well. Two Japan Coast Guard aircraft overflew the area Sunday, as waves were too high to permit patrol ships. Ships are now criss-crossing the search area, looking for signs of the four men who were to ultimately reach Yokohama.

Higa and the Okinawa Meteorological Observatory say winds in the Ishigaki area were approaching 80mph at the time the Jade Princess was transiting the area. Yonaguni Island was recording 49.2m/sec winds, while Ishigaki Island clocked 35.5m/sec winds Sunday, before Typhoon Jangmi turned its attention on nearby Taiwan. The typhoon wreaked havoc on Taiwan for more than 12 hours before turning north, west of Okinawa’s main island, and downgraded to a tropical storm.

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