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Search for missing man called off

PUBLISHED: 15:24 02 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:18 07 May 2010

Lifeboats are searching the coast of Norfolk for a missing ferry crewman

Lifeboats are searching the coast of Norfolk for a missing ferry crewman

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

The biggest search ever co-ordinated off the East Anglian coast was today 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 coastguard teams was launched across a 60-mile stretch of coastline to try to find a missing crewman who is believed to have fallen overboard.

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

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

Police are now carrying out an investigation into how he fell in and interviewing other crew members.

Crews from Wells, Gorleston, Caister, Cromer, Lowestoft, Skegness 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.

Cromer lifeboat took part in today's search

The operation was the biggest ever organised in terms of lifeboats launched.

The vessel was on passage from Rotterdam to The Humber and 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 may day 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.

Richard Leeds, operations manager for Cromer lifeboat, said: “He was last seen at midnight last night, at about 5am they found out he had disappeared, or wasn't there. We got called about 5.55am. We launched at about 6.05am.”

He said it was “like looking for a needle in a hay stack.”

Yarmouth Coastguard Watch Manager Peter Wheeler said too much time had past 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 many rescuers today involved in this operation. With the sea temperature of 10 degrees centigrade there is limited survival time in the water at this time of year.”

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