THE MIRACLE of modern technology helped save the lives of two Hampshire yachtsmen last night when their distress call off the coast of Malaysia was answered in Britain.

When their yacht Blue was holed beneath the water line ten miles off the coast and just before dawn Malaysian time and, the two Southampton yachtsman knew exactly who to call on their hi-tech satellite phone.

In a graphic demonstration of the power of modern communications equipment, they rang Cornwall's Falmouth Coastguard.

Officers there calculated their position and sent it to the Malaysian Marine Police, which alerted passing ships.

But the yachtsmen, who have not been named, found their craft was sinking so quickly they had no time to wait and were forced to abandon ship. Fortunately, they were able to alert a passing fishing boat with emergency flares.

The yacht sank in less than ten minutes. It is not known what it hit or why it sank so quickly.

Malaysian police alerted by Falmouth were already heading for the scene and picked up the yachtsmen, taking them in to the port of Lumut on the Strait of Malacca.

Falmouth watch officer Ray George took the call. He said: "We got a call at 10.20pm last night, direct from the guys' satellite telephone.

"We tried to get as much information as possible because we didn't know if we would be able to raise them again. While I was doing that colleagues were plotting their position. We found out whose area they were in and contacted the Malaysian authorities with a fax and a telephone call.

Mr George said: "We only talked to one person, but he seemed OK. Obviously he was quite shocked but also quite calm and they were as well prepared as you could be."