NEWS

Canadian Among 5 Missing After Yacht In Philippines Disappeared

10/06/2015 12:00 EDT | Updated 10/06/2015 12:59 EDT

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine coast guard say a Canadian is among five people who were on board a yacht that disappeared while sailing in waters that were lashed by a storm last week.

A coast guard search team on a plane Tuesday spotted what appeared to be a floating body, orange objects and an oil slick in the high seas about 400 kilometres west of the northwestern Philippine city of Laoag.

But coast guard spokesman Cmdr. Armand Balilo says it is not confirmed if they were from the yacht Europa, which was also carrying two Britons, an American and a Filipino.

Hong Kong and the Philippines have dispatched planes and alerted ships in the area.

The 18.2-metre yacht left Hong Kong on Thursday and was supposed to arrive in Subic Bay northwest of Manila not later than Monday.

The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club says an emergency position-indicating radio beacon on the boat was activated Saturday,

indicating the vessel was experiencing difficulties.

Hong Kong's Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre dispatched a search plane and passing ships were asked to be on the lookout but "no yacht, life raft or debris was detected,'' the club said. Hong Kong and the Philippines deployed one aircraft each to continue a co-ordinated search on Tuesday, it added.

The Hong Kong-registered yacht was owned and skippered by Robin Wyatt and had four crew members who were all experienced sailors, according to the club. The Philippine coast guard identified Wyatt as one of the two Britons on the Europa.

The British embassy in Manila confirmed two of its nationals were on board.

"We are liaising urgently with the local authorities concerning search and rescue operations and providing support to the families,'' it said in a statement.

A tropical storm, Mujigae, blew out of the northern Philippines on Saturday and intensified at sea into a powerful typhoon before slamming into the southern Chinese province of Guangdong the following day. At least 10 people were killed in the two countries, Chinese and Philippine authorities said.

More than 200 Filipino fishermen were reported missing in Mujigae's aftermath, including many who ventured out to sea from the northwestern Philippine provinces of Pangasinan and La Union despite warnings of rough seas, Manila's Office of Civil Defence said.

Many sailed back safely after taking shelter somewhere and others were rescued, but a few dozen remain missing, officials said.