A Moroccan, missing at sea for a month, actively wanted

The 7.3 meter long sailboat disappeared a month ago about 75 miles off Begur, with its two occupants on board, Moroccan businessman Mamoun Rtal Bennai, 34, and director of French animated films Emmanuel Rouffio, 63 years old. The maritime rescue services launched the search to find the sailboat and the two missing. Without success so far.

"It is not at all common for a boat to disappear, and even more so in this area of ​​the Mediterranean", explains to El País, Toni Rivas, professional sailor and sports director of the Garraf Maritime Club. According to the latest data from the Permanent Commission for the Investigation of Maritime Accidents and Incidents (CIAM) under the Ministry of Transport in Spain, 19 shipwrecked fishing boats were investigated in 2020.

To read : A sailboat left for Tangier missing in the Mediterranean

The sailboat was recently acquired by Rouffio. He and his Moroccan friend decided to go to Tangier before heading to the Canary Islands in the summer. They planned to make a stopover in the Balearic Islands on May 10 before reaching the Moroccan city. His wife spoke to him for the last time on May 5, the day they left the French coast. Cross Med, the French maritime rescue, located the sailboat for the last time on May 6 at dawn, about 80 miles from Cape Creus.

For the French expert in maritime rescue, Francis Courteaux, the sailboat used by the two missing is too small for such long crossings. Waves can block its AIS signal, especially in the Gulf of Lion where strong storms are regularly recorded. According to the expert, the sailboat could have been seriously damaged after a storm, leading to the failure of all the safety and distress systems.

The French authorities, in collaboration with the Spanish and Italian authorities, are continuing the search to find the sailboat as well as the two occupants. Their families cling to the hope that they are still alive.



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