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6 of 7 fishermen missing in S.Carolina rescued

5/22/2006

GEORGETOWN, S.C. — Five missing boaters were rescued Thursday from an overturned catamaran off the South Carolina coast, and another was plucked from the water as the Coast Guard searched for a seventh person still missing.

The group had been on a charted fishing expedition Wednesday when the 26-foot catamaran capsized about 15 miles off Murrells Inlet, authorities said.

Five survivors were spotted with the overturned boat about 11:30 a.m. Thursday and pulled to safety by a Coast Guard helicopter, said Capt. John Cameron, commander of Coast Guard Sector Charleston. A volunteer boater assisting with the search found another person from the boat clinging to a life jacket and hauled him aboard.

Cameron said all six were taken to a hospital and several were being treated for hypothermia.

The boat, the Super Suds II, left Wednesday and was expected back at the Marlin Quay Marina in Garden City, 85 miles north of Charleston, at about 6:30 p.m. It was reported missing about 8 p.m. and the Coast Guard began searching.

Personnel at the marina last spoke with the boat's crew about 5 p.m., officials said.

"At the moment we don't have a cause. The weather last night was 3 to 4-foot seas with 15 to 20 mph winds which should not have been an imminently dangerous condition for the vessel, but not necessarily a comfortable ride on a vessel that size," Cameron said.

He said the survivors said the vessel capsized and everyone went into the water. They all stayed with the vessel for a time, but then two of the people got separated, Cameron said. The boaters identities were not released.

Cameron said the water temperature is about 70 degrees.