By MELISSA NELSON-GABRIEL
DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (AP) — Coast Guard crews continued searching Sunday for five people missing in the water after recovering two bodies following a powerful storm that capsized several sailboats participating in a regatta near Mobile Bay, Alabama.
One body was discovered Saturday and another was found on Sunday morning, Major Steve Thompson, director of the Alabama Department of Public Safety’s Marine Patrol Division, said at a press conference in Dauphin Island.
Authorities said crews are using boats and planes to search the bay, including its center and areas closer to Dauphin Island where anxious family members have gathered at a Coast Guard station hoping for updates. Red Cross volunteers and an ambulance also were visible at the scene.
Names of the missing and deceased were not released on Sunday. One person was rescued Saturday evening.
More than 100 sailboats and as many as 200 people were participating in the Dauphin Island regatta in Mobile Bay. Officials on Sunday said not all of the missing people were participating in the race.
Thompson called Saturday’s events “an awful tragedy.”
“Our hearts go out to the families, and we are using all available resources,” he said.
Coast Guard Capt. Duke Walker said officials are focused on finding the missing people. Walker said conditions were “optimal” for Sunday’s ongoing search, with light winds and sunny skies on smooth water.
The conditions were similar early Saturday, according to tourists Joe B. Stuard and Andrea Stuard of Wilmer, Alabama, while watching the search and rescue boats from shore. They were riding their bikes on Dauphin Island as the storm blew through around 4 p.m.
“We wouldn’t have been out on our bikes if we knew it was going to come in like that. It was fast and quick. We made a dash for shelter,” Joe B. Stuard said.
The boats were part of the 57th iteration of the race.