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Mysterious empty yacht washes up on Florida beach

By Lateef Mungin, CNN
  • Sight of empty yacht shocks residents
  • Witnesses say boat's engine was still running and lights on when it hits shore
  • Boat is registered to the federal government

(CNN) -- The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for a possible missing boater after an empty yacht mysteriously washed ashore near Madeira Beach in Florida.

The search was suspended Wednesday night, Coast Guard officials said.

The empty 48-foot boat washed up on the beach about 1 p.m. Wednesday, triggering a police investigation and a Coast Guard rescue mission.

The Coast Guard sent out two rescue vessels and a helicopter but was not able to locate anybody.

Adding to the mystery is the fact that the vessel is registered to the federal government, CNN-affiliate WFTS reported.

Also when the ship came ashore the engine was still running and lights were on, witnesses told the affiliate.

The sight shocked some.

"We do not see something like this often. I have lived here since 1958 I have never seen a boat this size beached like this," Rob Klingel told the affiliate.

Danita Gainey who lives in Redington Beach which is near Madeira Beach, said the sight gave her a bad feeling.

"I do not know what to say. I can't explain it. I don't want to say anything bad. It's hard to say anything good when you see something like that," Gainey said.

Deputies from the Pinellas County Sheriff's office are investigating the incident and trying to track down the owner of the boat.