By Humphrey Carter

BRITISH residents Gabriel Beaumont and her husband Michael, a retired Royal Navy captain, were first on the scene of Sunday's fire on board a luxury yacht off Valldemossa. “We were out sailing with some friends when we say the motor yacht sailing along, it suddenly stopped and then thick smoke started pouring out, one of its engines had caught fire. “Being so close, we rushed to help and were the first on the scene. We helped get the four crew, an Irish family, off and on to some speed boats which had also come to help in order to get them to safety as quickly as possible. The skipper and his mate, both English, stayed with us on the boat until the rescue services arrived. “It was awful for the family. It was only the second time they had taken the 18-month old yacht out and they were en route to Palma,” Gabriel, who lives in Fornalutx, added yesterday.

The 25 metre yacht called Malarina, worth an estimated 360'000 euros, was completely destroyed by the fire. “We went back later in the afternoon to check and all I could see was a bit of the hull above the water. “Back in the port of Valldemossa we all did everything we could to help the family. They lost everything, their money, clothes, passports, fortunately the skipper had some money to cover lunch.” The skipper put out a may-day call at 1pm, according to Gabriel, but she said that it was at least two hours before any rescue vessels reached the scene. “Fortunately it was a calm day and we, along with a few other people, were out sailing and able to rush to their help. Otherwise, they would have been left treading water for hours waiting for the rescue teams to arrive. “As sailors and yacht owners we were all quite horrified at how long the rescue services took to respond. I've documented everything to help the family with their insurance claim,” she added. “We were all calling the emergency numbers on our mobiles, the fire was so fierce someone could have died.”

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