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French rescuers die trying to save fishing boat off Atlantic coast

Rescuers near the capsized boat of the National Society of Sea Rescue in Les Sables-d'Olonne, where three rescuers perished during storm Miguel on 7 June, 2019.
Rescuers near the capsized boat of the National Society of Sea Rescue in Les Sables-d'Olonne, where three rescuers perished during storm Miguel on 7 June, 2019. Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

Three French rescue workers have perished at sea after their boat capsized during storm Miguel off the west coast of France.

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It’s understood that seven men from the National Society of Sea Rescue were aboard the boat. Four survivors were able to swim to shore.

The sailors had gone out to help another boat in distress when they were overcome by the storm, which recorded wind speeds of 129km/h. Their boat capsized some 800 metres off the coast of the town of Les Sables d'Olonne.

The French press agency AFP reported that three helicopters, gendarmerie, firefighters and the navy, flew over the area to try to locate the victims.

The National Society of Sea Rescue boat sails off the coast of Les Sables-d'Olonne on 7 June, 2019, moments before capsizing as storm Miguel hits the region.
The National Society of Sea Rescue boat sails off the coast of Les Sables-d'Olonne on 7 June, 2019, moments before capsizing as storm Miguel hits the region. Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

Local MP Stéphane Buchou, who represents the Vendée department, or district, where the tragedy took place, expressed his sympathies in a post on Twitter.

"The rescuers of SNSM des Sables d'Olonne have unfortunately paid with their lives for their dedication and bravery," he wrote. "All my thoughts are with the victims and their families ... I give my full support to rescuers who are always mobilised."

Ten of France’s central west and Atlantic districts were placed on orange alert Friday with the arrival of the storm Miguel, which first lashed the Spanish region of Asturia.

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