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Coast Guard Suspends Search For Fishermen, Citing 'Probable Hoax'

The Coast Guard says a radio mayday that went out from the Spruce Head area Thursday morning is probably a hoax.

After searching a 62-square-mile area from the air and the water for nearly six hours, the agency says it found no evidence that any boat had gone down.

In the distress call, a man reports that an unnamed 42-foot boat with three men onboard has lost its rudder and is rapidly taking on water.

The call took place less than two weeks after the New England fishing community was shaken by the loss of four fishermen from a Portland-based boat that sank off Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Deliberately issuing a false distress message is a felony punishable by up to six years in prison, a $250,000 fine and reimbursement of search costs.