The Bourbon Rhode wend down last week in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean (Graphic: HRT) The Bourbon Rhode wend down last week in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean (Graphic: HRT)

The observers interpreted the flares as a distress signal. According to authorities on the French island of Martinique, the regional maritime monitoring center immediately dispatched three commercial vessels to the area. Those ships are expected to reach the shipwreck zone sometime on Tuesday. A US Coast Guard plane will also take part in the search.

Neven Melvan from the Croatian Seafarers' Union believes the search will be successful.

"If the crew managed to get on a life raft, then there is hope. These rafts are well-equipped for survival. There is dehydrated food and potable water on board. There are devices to desalinate seawater as well as fishing equipment, so it is possible to survive on these rafts for some time. It is also not particularly cold. Hope is still alive, especially for the family," Melvan said.

The Bourbon Rhode sank last Thursday near the eye of a category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. Three of the 14 member crew were rescued and four confirmed dead. The rest are still missing. Search efforts were called off on Saturday, to the dismay of the Miškić family, but this new information has rekindled hope that the missing crew may still be alive.

Friends and family of Captain Miškić have not given up. They launched a petition over the weekend to keep the search going and now they have initiated a fundraising campaign to help finance the effort. They had raised 22 thousand euros by Tuesday afternoon.

Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman has also confirmed the new developments in the search.

"The latest information is that a flare was seen last night and the Bourbon shipping company immediately sent a vessel to the area. A plane was also dispatched at dawn. They are on their way to the area where the flare was spotted. The most important development is the dispatching of the ship and the plane, which is equipped with special search technology,” Grlić Radman said.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović also commented on the developments.

"The search is continuing. According to my information, not only are French authorities involved but some other nations are helping as well. They are also using satellites and drones in the search," she said.