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Dauphin Island Regatta: Two Dead, Five Missing in Alabama After Boats Capsize

Coast Guard crews were scouring the waters near Mobile Bay on Sunday for five sailors who were missing after a number of boats capsized in a storm.
/ Source: NBC News

Five sailors were still missing Sunday, a day after a number of sailboats capsized when a sudden storm hit during a regatta near Mobile Bay, Alabama, killing at least two people, officials said.

Coast Guard crews scouring the waters found one body Saturday night and another Sunday morning after the thunderstorm threw several mariners overboard, Coast Guard Capt. Duke Walker said. Of the 10 boats that capsized or suffered damage, three were participating in one of the races of the Dauphin Island Sailing Regatta at the Fairhope Yacht Club, Walker said.

Walker said that 40 people had been rescued from the water after the storm at 4:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. ET) and that the Coast Guard believes five people remained missing Sunday.

"We think we are looking for five additional people in the water, but we are still pulling for information," he said.

Walker said later Sunday that crews had searched 2,500 square miles of the water looking for survivors and that the efforts would continue into the night.

Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier said he didn't know how many boats were in the water when winds up to 80 mph rolled in, but he said 150 boats usually compete in the event.

Zane Yoder, who has been sailing for 30 years, said his boat blew over sideways and "fell apart."

"I looked over and I saw white water being blown towards us," Yoder told NBC station WPMI of Mobile. "It hit us in literally about 30 seconds, and the next thing you know, we're getting blown over sideways."

"Thank God the Coast Guard was able to rescue us, because we were about to abandon ship," Yoder said.

The Fairhope Yacht Club said in a statement that it was cooperating with the Coast Guard and local authorities in the search. "The Fairhope Yacht Club, all the sailing community, and their families are heartbroken with what has happened," the statement said.


— Elisha Fieldstadt and M. Alex Johnson