Anxious wait for missing three

A SUFFOLK family are today desperately waiting for news of three missing people missing off the US coast.Jacek Bielecki, 56, who has family in Orford, his son Jack, 19, and Richard White, 34, have not been heard from since noon on Thursday, when Mr Bielecki called his stepdaughter in the US to say their 41ft yacht, Free Spirit, was in trouble and they needed to be rescued immediately.

A SUFFOLK family are today desperately waiting for news of three missing people missing off the US coast.

Jacek Bielecki, 56, who has family in Orford, his son Jack, 19, and Richard White, 34, have not been heard from since noon on Thursday, when Mr Bielecki called his stepdaughter in the US to say their 41ft yacht, Free Spirit, was in trouble and they needed to be rescued immediately.

They disappeared amid atrocious conditions, with the remnants of Tropical Storm Alberto causing winds of up to 115mph and 30ft seas.

After the bad weather hampered the rescue mission on Thursday, American and Canadian coastguards continued the hunt yesterday, using jets, helicopters and boats.

Mr Bielecki, who lives in the US in Newport, Rhode Island, but has family including a daughter, Polly, in Orford, Suffolk, had been sailing the boat from Newport to Europe.

In January he wrote on a boat owners' website that he and his son had recently bought the Free Spirit and were upgrading it ready to sail around the world.

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Also on the boat was fellow Newport resident Molly Finn, 21, who is American.

The coastguard said yesterday that debris had been found in the area where the last distress call was made, 200 nautical miles south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and 290 nautical miles east of Chatham, Massachusetts.

But they added that none of the items, which included a wooden door, a bleach bottle and petrol can, had been "directly linked" to the missing boat.

More than 6,500 nautical square miles have been searched so far.

Mr Bielecki's stepdaughter Kirsty McKeney, who is based in Newport, phoned police in New York after getting his call from a satellite phone.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We're concerned about the safety of those involved. We are following it very closely.''

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