Small cabin cruiser encountered 20 to 30ft waves outside Whitby Harbour

Three people have died after the cabin cruiser they were on overturned in heavy seas this afternoon just outside Whitby Harbour in Yorkshire.

The boat, thought to be 24ft in length, capsized just 50 to 100 feet outside the harbour after encountering “horrendous” conditions, and waves of 20 to 30ft, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency reported.

All three – two men and a woman – were rescued from the water after a helicopter and lifeboat were scrambled. However, all later died in hospital.

Earlier, at just after 12.15pm, concerned lifeboat personnel had reported to Humber Coastguard that the cabin cruiser was attempting to leave the harbour, despite the conditions. After the boat got into difficulties, the woman on board also made an emergency call.

Witnesses said they saw at least two of the people struggling in the water, and reported that at least one of those in the water was wearing a lifejacket.

Mike Bill, rescue co-ordination centre canager at Humber Coastguard said: “We do not understand why these people went out in such conditions and they are clearly paying a price for their actions.

“We can only warn again that the sea is a killer and that in these very rough conditions individuals must be aware of the risks that they take when approaching or going out on the sea.

“We would like to particularly praise the lifeboat personnel at Whitby for alerting the authorities to the sea conditions, the passage of the vessel and the unfolding incident.”