A search for four British sailors missing in the Atlantic Ocean after their yacht capsized a week ago will be called off by midnight on Friday if no sign of the men is found, British and U.S. authorities said.
The four yachtsmen went missing a week ago as they were returning to Britain from a sailing event in Antigua in the Caribbean and reported that their vessel, the Cheeki Rafiki, was taking on water, forcing them to change course for the Azores.
U.S. authorities abandoned a search after two days due to treacherous conditions but resumed the hunt on Tuesday after a request from the British government and a public petition signed by over 200,000 people.
Captain Anthony Popiel from the U.S. Coast Guard said there had been no sign of the men so far and debris found in the area of the search about 1,000 miles off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, was not from the missing yacht.
He said the search that had covered more than 17,540 sq miles since Tuesday would be called off by midnight Friday if there were no further developments to indicate search efforts would locate the crew alive.
A spokeswoman from Britain's foreign office said a British military aircraft helping in the search that has involved U.S. and Canadian air crews, a U.S. navy warship and commercial vessels, would also continue the search for another day.
"The U.S. Coast Guard has gone above and beyond in the search for the Cheeki Rafiki," the spokeswoman said.
The families of the missing men - captain Andrew Bridge, 21, Steve Warren, 52, Paul Goslin, 56, and James Male, 23 - met the American ambassador to Britain on Thursday and passed on letters of thanks for President Barack Obama and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Relatives had hoped that the men, all experienced sailors, had escaped the 40-foot (12-meter) yacht on a life raft after it started taking on water.
Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith