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29,000 people join search for missing yacht and crew

Campaigners are appealing for a search to be launched for a yacht and three crew that disappeared during a delivery in the Indian Ocean after 29,000 people helped find images of a possible liferaft.

Anthony Murray, Reginald Robertson and Jaryd Payne left South Africa mid-December to deliver a Leopard 44 catamaran to Phuket, Thailand. Contact was last made with the boat by satellite phone on January 18 and they were reported as missing when they failed to arrive by mid-February.

An official search wasn’t launched because the yacht’s EPIRB didn’t activate and no one knew where to look in the 73,556,000 km² of ocean.

But now, thanks to the help of the 29,000 people who searched through satellite images online, an object has been spotted that could be a liferaft, leading to appeals for a search to be launched.

The relatives of Murray, Robertson and Payne set up a crowdsourcing campaign to try and locate any sign of the yacht by using a service called Tomnod — a website that allows anyone to join the search party by sifting through satellite images of the area.

It was through this service that many of the volunteers found the potential liferaft.

A statement on the Facebook page set up to help locate the yacht said the sighting was promising: “It is sufficiently positive that we need to be directing some attention towards requesting a search.

“This area lies right between South Africa and Australia and is consequently a very long way away from these two centres. It is essential that we keep looking, because the more sightings, the more compelling the reason to arrange a search.”

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