Malta searches for 5 French tourists who went missing after coming ashore from yacht to dine

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Maltese authorities enlisted the U.S. 6th Fleet and Italian coast guard on Tuesday as they searched for a second day for five French yachters who went missing off the Mediterranean island.

The tourists — two men, two women and a 15-year-old boy — had anchored their yacht, El Pirata, off the village of Dwejra on Sunday. They left on their 4-meter (12-foot) tender Sunday evening to go ashore for dinner at Xlendi Bay — the next cove over on the Maltese island of Gozo — but failed to return to the yacht.

The trip would have taken them out into the open seas where conditions were rough and winds high on Sunday night.

The Spanish yacht captain reported the group missing Monday at 4:30 p.m. after he did an initial search himself, a government statement said. Police confirmed the group had dined at a Xlendi restaurant and that a witness saw the five leave Xlendi Bay at around midnight.

Patrol boats of the Armed Forces of Malta, a helicopter and aircraft were joined Tuesday by search and rescue teams from the U.S. Navy's 6th Fleet stationed in Sicily and the Italian coast guard, a Maltese government statement said.