Calls for help

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MARCH 6 — Coast Guard authorities Monday were searching for four people, including a 12-year-old, who were apparently aboard a sinking boat about 10 miles off Galveston, Texas.

Police received a call from a cell phone about 10 a.m. Sunday from a man who said his boat was disabled and that he and his passengers needed help, a Coast Guard news release states. The man had described nearby buildings when officers asked about his location.

Galveston police contacted the Coast Guard, which launched a rescue boat to search for the disabled boat, according to the release. Authorities, however, lost contact with the caller and have not found the boat or its passengers. A Coast Guard helicopter, rescue boat and two patrol boats continued to search the area on Monday.

In South Carolina, Coast Guard authorities suspended a search for six boaters and were investigating whether the distress call was a hoax.

At about 10:30 p.m. Thursday the agency received distress calls saying a 23-foot boat with six people on board was taking on water in heavy rain and wind about 600 yards off Myrtle Beach, news reports say. Searches did not turn up the boat or debris.

“Coast Guard crews … risked their lives to go out,” a Coast Guard spokesperson says in a news report. “It’s a very serious crime.”

If caught, a hoax caller could face up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and be ordered to reimburse the Coast Guard for the cost of the search, according to reports.

Jason Fell