Fishermen feared dead after falling overboard
Two French fishermen are missing feared drowned after being washed overboard off the Westcountry coast.
A major air and sea search was launched off the Isles of Scilly after Falmouth Coastguards were alerted to the incident by counterparts in France.
The two fishermen, who were not wearing lifejackets, were washed off the deck of the Brittany-based Neway at about 6.30pm on Saturday.
The RNLI's St Mary's all-weather lifeboat was sent to the scene, some 30 nautical miles north west of the islands, along with a search and rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose, near Helston in West Cornwall.
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French fishing vessels also joined the search after a "mayday relay" was issued to shipping in the area.
Despite an extensive search of the area, which was expanded as time went on, neither of the men were found.
The rescue bid was called off by Falmouth Coastguard at about 11pm.
"The two fishermen were wearing yellow oil skins, but no lifejackets or buoyancy aids when they were washed overboard," watch manager Andy Cattrell, said.
"Sadly, despite an intensive search we have been unable to locate them."
The crew of the 82ft (25m) fishing vessel, which is registered at Paimpol, in Brittany, are believed to have left the port of Roscoff on April 8.
They were fishing in gale force winds and rough seas when the accident happened.
A spokesman for Falmouth Coastguard said yesterday: "Six French fishing boats responded very quickly to the mayday relay and there was quickly a high level of search activity.
"Although they went into the water about 30 miles off the Isles of Scilly, the search area was expanded once the lifeboat and helicopter were on scene. But searching for something that small, over such a wide area in such rough seas is incredibly difficult."
French fishing crews in the area continued the search yesterday and were later joined by a French navy warship which was en route to an exercise. The Neway was heading back to its home port yesterday afternoon. French news websites named one of the missing fishermen as 25-year-old Antony Deveaux.