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St. Vincent police probe death of British sailor

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Authorities in the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent are investigating the death of a British man whose body was found on a life raft near his burned and sunken yacht.

John Edward Garner, 53, had injuries to his head and both legs, and he was pronounced dead at a hospital in the capital of Kingstown, Police Inspector Hawkins Nanton said Friday in a phone interview. Police are now trying to find Garner's Norwegian girlfriend for questioning, he said.

"We are investigating all angles," Nanton said. "We have not made a definitive decision." He said police were notified Wednesday around noon that a yacht was on fire just west of St. Vincent, and when authorities arrived, the Gibralter-registered Asante yacht had already sunk.

"All that was found was debris and oil spill," Nanton said. He said Garner had arrived in St. Vincent with his girlfriend on January 19, and that they were granted an extension to remain until April 19.

Garner is the second British sailor to die in the eastern Caribbean in the past two months. In mid-January, 62-year-old British tourist Roger Pratt was assaulted and killed and his wife beaten when several men boarded their yacht just off the island of St. Lucia. Four men have been charged in the case.

Dick Stoute, vice president of the Caribbean Sailing Association, said the two cases have raised concerns about crime in the Caribbean. "I don't think it's particularly severe, but it does exist," he said in a phone interview, noting that the circumstances surrounding Garner's death are still being investigated. "The other factor is safety on yachts. There are many people sailing who have little experience."

It is not uncommon for people to die from propane stove explosions on yachts, according to Sally Erdle, editor of the St. Vincent-based Caribbean Compass, a monthly publication for sailors. She noted that two people died from that type of explosion in January 2012 on a boat off Venezuela's coast.

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