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German and Russian sailors missing off Swedish coast

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German and Russian sailors missing off Swedish coast
12:08 CEST+02:00
Two men were reported missing and feared to have drowned on Tuesday after they were washed off their sailboats in a heavy storm in two separate accidents off Sweden, rescue services said.

The search for the men, a German and a Russian, had been called off by Tuesday afternoon due to difficult weather conditions and because there was considered to be "no possibility of survival" for either of them, Jonas Sundin, a spokesman for the Swedish maritime rescue service, told AFP.

The German man, identified only as having been born in 1950, had been attempting to sail alone across the Östersund strait that separates Sweden from Denmark, and had been scheduled to meet his wife in Copenhagen on Tuesday.

The alert was sounded when the wreck of his nine-metre (30-foot) sailboat was discovered late Monday on a beach near the southeastern Swedish town of Höganäs, according to rescue service spokeswoman Maria Bonan.

Helicopters, boats and a search-dog team were dispatched to find him but came up empty-handed, she said, pointing out that the search conditions had been "very difficult" and that it was unclear if he had been wearing a life jacket.

The missing Russian man, whose identity was not divulged, was the skipper on a larger sailboat that had been heading towards Hamburg when the entire seven-man crew was washed into the tempestuous Baltic Sea near the island of Öland just after midnight.

The other six members of the team were rescued, Bonan said.

"These two accidents are weather related," she said.

After weeks of sweltering sun, much of southern Sweden has in recent days been drenched in torrential rain.

Sweden's national meteorological institute described the storm over the south of the country late Monday as "one of the worst we have ever seen during summer."

As many as 30,000 households were reportedly without power overnight to Tuesday and a number of trains were cancelled due to the storm.

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