Hurricane Julio yacht rescue launched

Honolulu - A rescue effort was launched on Sunday to reach three people aboard a yacht that got caught in Hurricane Julio about 640km northeast of the Hawaii island of Oahu.

The sailors aboard the 12m yacht Walkabout sent a message around 07:00 on Sunday requesting help after the boat became disabled and took on water in rough seas, the US Coast Guard said in a statement.

One of the hatches blew away, and onboard pumps were unable to keep up with the flooding. The vessel's life raft was also blown overboard.

The sailors' message was sent to the International Emergency Response Co-ordination Centre in Texas, which contacted the Coast Guard in Honolulu.

An aircraft sent to establish contact with the sailors detected Mayday calls from the boat.

Another aircraft that reached the yacht dropped a life raft and pump into the water, but the sailors couldn't retrieve the equipment because of 9m swells and powerful winds, Coast Guard spokesperson Petty Officer Melissa McKenzie said.

Another aircraft was sent to attempt another drop, she said. A 200m container ship diverted from its route to the location of the yacht was still on its way late on Sunday.