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The bodies of three men have been found in the hunt for fishermen who went missing seven weeks ago.

Carl McGrath, 34, Ross Ballantine 39, and Alan Minard, 20, were onboard the Nicola Faith when it left Conwy, North Wales, on January 27.

A major search was launched when the boat failed to return but was stood down two days after their disappearance when nothing was found.

On Monday, a spokesman for North Wales Police said the force was aware the bodies of three men had been recovered from the coastline off Wirral and Blackpool over the weekend.

The families of the three fishermen who went missing have been informed.

The police spokesman said: “We have been in contact with colleagues from both Merseyside and Lancashire Police, and we await the outcome of the Home Office post-mortem examinations.

“The families of the missing crew members from the vessel Nicola Faith have been kept informed, and continue to be supported by specialist officers.”

More than £55,000 has been raised on a JustGiving page set up by the families of the missing men to pay for a private search, led by deep water recovery expert David Mearns.

Earlier this month, the Marine Accident and Investigation Branch (MAIB) said the boat’s life raft had been found off the coast of Kirkcudbrightshire in Scotland by the Coastguard.

A GoFundMe page launched by Lauren Hynes, sister of Carl McGrath, after they went missing said: “On the 28th of January my brothers ( Carl McGrath ) boat with 3 of his crew member Ross and Alan were meant to arrive in the conwy area around 11pm but did not show.

“The last contact we had with them on the boat was at 9:30pm, we then tried to contact them again at 12pm but had no contact.

“We are working with the RNLI and police at this time.”