Polish teen sailors safe despite severe weather

Their ship was drifting off the British coast after it lost both masts.

London: A group of teenage sailors whose ship was drifting off the British coast after it lost both masts in gale-force winds is safe from harm, coast guards said on Friday, and the vessel was to be towed for repairs.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said that the Fryderyk Chopin, a tall ship used to train young Polish sailors, is about 100 miles (160 kilometres) southwest of Britain`s Isles of Scilly. The crew of 47 is mostly made up of 14-year-old cadets.

There have been no injuries reported and the Royal Navy has stood down their search and rescue helicopters, which are returning to base.

"It is a salvage mission now and although everyone is still on board, they are in no danger," said Helen Hudson, a coast guard official.

Poland`s Prime Minister Donald Tusk, in Brussels for a European Union summit, said earlier that he was anxiously following the news about the ship as the vessel has "many young people on board”.

"The captain has seen no need to evacuate, so I believe nothing tragic has happened there yet, there is no threat to these people," Tusk told journalists there.

The 182-foot (56-meter) -long Chopin, built in the Polish port city of Gdansk in 1992, is modelled on the fast-moving ships of the age of sail. It made its debut in 1992 in the Columbus Day Regatta across the Atlantic.

Bureau Report

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