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Sea search called off

PUBLISHED: 09:45 03 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:25 03 July 2010

THE biggest search ever co-ordinated off the East Anglian coast was yesterday called off after a missing crewman from a ferry was presumed dead.

A major operation involving seven RNLI lifeboats, two search and rescue helicopters and six coast-guard teams was launched across a 100-mile stretch of coastline from Lowestoft to Spurn Point in East Yorkshire to try to find a missing crewman believed to have fallen overboard.

THE biggest search ever co-ordinated off the East Anglian coast was yesterday called off after a missing crewman from a ferry was presumed dead.

A major operation involving seven RNLI lifeboats, two search and rescue helicopters and six coast-guard teams was launched across a 100-mile stretch of coastline from Lowestoft to Spurn Point in East Yorkshire to try to find a missing crewman believed to have fallen overboard.

The alarm was raised at about 5am yesterday after the person was confirmed missing on board the roll on roll off ferry, The Pride of Rotterdam, which was en route from Rotterdam to Hull.

He was last seen at around midnight on Monday and could have fallen in anywhere between Lowestoft and the Humber.

Police are now carrying out an investigation into how he fell in.

Crews from Wells, Gorleston, Caister, Cromer, Lowestoft, Skeg-ness and Humber joined in the search, which was co-ordinated by Yarmouth coastguards.

Six coastguard teams - Winterton, Cromer, Mundesley, Happisburgh, Cleethorpes and Donna Nook - were also involved, but the search was called off just before lunchtime after it was assumed the man had died.

The search concentrated on a 60-mile area of sea from East of Cromer to the Humber.

Two helicopters from Wattisham and Leconfield joined in after the mayday was sounded. Each lifeboat and helicopter was given an area to search along the ferry's route.

The tide meant that the person may have drifted in the sea and Richard Leeds, operations manager for Cromer lifeboat, said it was “like looking for a needle in a hay stack”.

Yarmouth Coastguard watch manager Peter Wheeler said too much time had passed from when the man had gone into the sea.

“If he had been in the sea for 12 hours there is very little chance that he is alive. An extensive search has been undertaken. With the sea temperature there is limited survival time in the water at this time of year.”

Second coxswain Robert Smith, who led the search on the Wells Lifeboat said: “The sea temperature was eight degrees Celsius out there. It was very cold, someone in the water could probably only survive for about 20 to 30 minutes.”


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