WILMINGTON, N.C. (WAVY) — The U.S. Coast Guard and other first responders are still searching for two people in the water after an overturned fishing vessel was found near Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina Tuesday morning.

The missing boaters have been identified as George Hamilton Andrews from Raleigh and William (Bill) Watkins Merriman IV from Wilmington. The duo was last seen leaving Atlantic Beach Sunday for a fishing trip.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector North Carolina received a report from a fishing vessel around 8 a.m. that a 35-foot recreational vessel was found overturned approximately three nautical miles outside of Beaufort Inlet.

TowBoat U.S. deployed a diver and determined there was no one onboard the vessel, but all the lights and gear were still energized.

Sector North Carolina issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast and directed the launch of search and rescue assets. The Coast Guard is searching an area that spans approximately 200 square nautical miles.

The Coast Guard also launched a C-130 Hercules aircraft from Air Station Elizabeth City to continue the search overnight alongside an 87-foot Coast Guard patrol boat.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Coast Guard had searched more than 3,200 square miles from Ocracoke Inlet to Bogue Inlet and the surrounding areas.

On Thursday, the Coast Guard said it has expanded its search and have covered nearly 7,300 square miles.

The National Park Service and Carteret County Sheriff’s Department are searching along the shoreline.

“This is a difficult search and rescue case with a lot of unknowns,” said Cmdr. Tracy Wirth, deputy sector commander for Coast Guard Sector North Carolina. “We are going to do everything we can for these families with missing loved ones. Our air and water assets are currently searching and will throughout the night. If you have any information that can help with our search, please contact our Command Center at 910-343-3880.”

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