The Alabama Department of Public Safety confirmed that two people are dead and the U.S. Coast Guard reports at least five remain missing after dozens of sailboats were caught in a storm and capsized during an annual race off the coast of Mobile, Alabama, on Saturday.
"It was a great day, everybody on the boat was having fun," a contestant named Kevin Maurin told AL.com. "All of a sudden, within seconds, boom."
The 57th Dauphin Island Regatta kicked off in Mobile Bay on Saturday, but around 4 p.m., the wind grew from a breeze to a deadly 70 mile-per-hour torrent with waves rising as tall as 10 feet. The storm blew through quickly, swamping boats and pitching sailors overboard. The search for the missing continued Sunday as some survivors are still waiting to be reunited with their loved ones.
Mayor Jeff Collier of Dauphin Island told NPR that about 200 sailors manning 100 boats participated in the 18-mile race. The Coast Guard said about 40 people have already been pulled from the water in the rescue operation, including several that were found by local officials or volunteers before the Coast Guard arrived. The Coast Guard has sent a large patrol boat, four smaller boats and several helicopter crews to continue the search, according to a statement.
One Georgia couple remained together in the water for two hours before being rescued by the Coast Guard and a father-and-son team reunited on shore after their boat capsized, NPR reports. The annual race is organized by the Fairhope Yacht Club.