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U.K. Prince Helps in Russian Sailor Rescue

In a dramatic rescue, a team of British coast guards, including Prince William, plucked two Russian sailors from the Irish Sea after their freighter sank in foul weather Sunday. But at least one sailor died, and five others from the all-Russian crew remain missing.

The Cook Islands-registered Swanland was carrying about 3,000 tons of limestone from Wales to the Isle of Wight when it encountered gale-force winds and giant waves and sank early Sunday morning about 30 kilometers off the coast of Wales.

Responding to a 2 a.m. mayday call, the British coastguard sent four helicopters and seven ships to the scene. Prince William, a Royal Air Force search and rescue pilot and second-in-line to the British throne, co-piloted the helicopter that hoisted sailors Roman Savina and Vitaly Kornenko to safety (see the video above).

The body of Leonid Sapunov was also recovered.

"Let me express to you and your colleagues my deepest gratitude for saving the lives of Russian citizens," Moscow's ambassador to Great Britain, Alexander Yakovenko, wrote in a letter addressed to Prince William and his colleagues that was published on the Russian Embassy's web site.

Rescuers continued to search until sundown amid harsh weather off the Lleyn Peninsula. Efforts continued on Monday, sweeping a 160-square-kilometer search area, the Guardian reported.

Hope that the missing sailors will be found alive is rapidly fading. The average person can survive for only six hours in 13 degree Celsius water — the current temperature of water in the area — Interfax reported.

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