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ENGLISH CHANNEL SEARCH UNDERWAY FOR MISSING CRUISE PASSENGER

venturaUPDATED: Bembridge RNLI’s all weather lifeboat and Coastguard Rescue 104 helicopter from Lee-on-Solent are involved in a search and rescue operation in the English Channel this morning (Saturday) for a passenger who has gone missing from the cruise ship Ventura. 

At just gone 04:00 HM Coastguard requested the volunteer crew of Bembridge RNLI to launch their lifeboat to conduct a search for the passenger, who is thought to have gone overboard during the ship’s return to Southampton following a 14-day cruise.

The P&O cruise ship’s officers turned the ship around just off the Bembridge coast after being alerted to the missing person by fellow passengers and joined HM Coastguard in the wide-scale search, which has moved south as the morning has progressed.

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At 07:45 Yarmouth RNLI’s all weather lifeboat was tasked to join the search efforts.

Bembridge’s Tamar class lifeboat and Ventura’s on-board rescue boat are continuing the search approximately 10 miles south of St Catherine’s Point. Meanwhile, Coastguard Rescue 104 helicopter has returned to Lee-on-Solent for its second re-fuel and is due to return to the search area shortly. The Ventura has been released from the search and is heading for port.

P&O have confirmed the boarding of the Ventura will be delayed by 3 hours and passengers due to embark the cruise liner today as being asked to arrive at Southampton port 3 hours after the time printed on their ticket.

UPDATE @ 14:00 – The search for the missing passenger, believed to be a male, has been scaled back after some 9 hours of searching.

Bembridge RNLI and Yarmouth RNLI are returning to station alongside Coastguard Rescue 104.

Messages are still being broadcast on VHF radio to ships in the area to keep an eye out for anything in the water.

UPDATE MONDAY: It has been confirmed that initially the search was conducted off of the Luccombe/Dunnose area of the Island. Selsey RNLI’s all weather lifeboat was initially launched to assist, however as the search area was adjusted to a position roughly 20 miles south of the Island she was returned to station.

At approximately 07:45, Yarmouth’s Severn Class ALB was launched, however as they were making there way down towards the search area a crew man became ill and required evacuation. Freshwater Independent Lifeboat was launched to carry out this evacuation, which had to be aborted due to the prevailing weather conditions.

It has also been confirmed that HMS Diamond was also tasked to assist in the search.

Bembridge RNLI was re-housed 3 minutes short of 10 hours from when she first went down the slip way, having completed over 170 NM at sea.

The overboard passenger, understood to be a male in his 40s, has still not been located. The search was called off at around 19:00 on Saturday evening.

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