The life raft of a fishing vessel which was last seen in January has been found off the coast of Scotland.
The Nicola Faith went missing with three men on board on 27 January during a trip off the Conwy coast.
The raft, found off Kirkcudbrightshire in Scotland by HM Coastguard, has been positively identified by the Marine Accident Investigation branch (MAIB).
Ross Ballantine, 39, Alan Minard, 20, and skipper Carl McGrath, 34, had been on board the vessel.
Their next of kin have been informed of the latest development.
Lowri Taylor, sister of Mr Ballantine, said: “We’ve been told that none of the equipment on the life raft had been used.
“That answers one question – we know that they weren’t on the life raft out in the sea trying to get help for days.
“But this news has made everything very real again. Everyone is extremely upset.”
The raft will be transported to the MAIB in Southampton for further investigation and analysis.
MAIB has been working with underwater search experts to cover a wide area including all of the 10m (33ft) vessel’s operating area in the Irish Sea.
The life raft was found about 90 nautical miles (165km) from where it was last seen off the coast at Rhos on Sea on the evening of 27 January.
After the official two-day search was called off when the Nicola Faith failed to return to port at Conwy, the men’s families sought to raise £75,000 to pay for a private search.
“It means it’s more important than ever that we keep raising money… to get additional expertise out there and searching and help us get the lads home,” Ms Taylor added.