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Searchers For Stricken Vessel Sight Flare

July 29, 1987

HONOLULU (AP) _ More than a dozen distress flares were spotted during the night near the position given by the crew of a motor-sailboat with 18 people on board that was reported on fire, the Coast Guard said today.

The first flare was spotted at 9:15 p.m. Tuesday by the crew of a Navy plane and was confirmed by the crew of a Coast Guard aircraft, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Mason Cornish of the Coast Guard.

Twelve other flares were spotted in two separate areas about 30 miles apart, according to the Coast Guard Rescue Center.

The Navy destroyer USS Ingersol was expected to reach the area, 800 miles southeast of Honolulu, by midmorning.

The search for the Mary Margaret began Monday night after ham radio operators in Hawaii, Washington state and Tennessee heard the distress calls and relayed the information to the Coast Guard, the agency said.

Nothing was heard from the vessel after the initial calls, and checks of ships registers and ship agents throughout the Pacific turned up no information on a vessel named the Mary Margaret, the Coast Guard said.

Search planes have been hampered by darkness and poor visibility because of a storm.

The first flare was spotted less than 10 miles from the position given by the Mary Margaret, Cornish said. No other ships are known to be in the area, he said.

The size of the Mary Margaret, its origin and destination and the identity of those on board remain unknown, Coast Guard officials said.

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