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LONDON -- Two fishermen are "very lucky to be alive" after escaping their sinking trawler and spending almost eight hours drifting in a life raft off the coast of northern England. The 30-foot boat got into trouble Monday after its fishing nets became caught on the seabed. The vessel went under so quickly the men did not have time to send a distress signal, according to the U.K.'s RNLI volunteer lifeboat service. The men were only rescued after a Dutch yacht, the Jager, happened to come across their raft floating 12 miles off the city of Sunderland in the North Sea.

The men were taken ashore in an RNLI lifeboat and released after a medical assessment. "The two fishermen are very lucky to be alive considering how quickly their boat sank and how long they were drifting in open water," the RNLI's Gary Waugh said. Coastguard Watch Manager Mike Puplett said both men were "shaken by their ordeal."

The life raft was brought ashore at Hartlepool, England.RNLI Hartlepool
- Alexander Smith