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PASSENGER OVERBOARD ON THE WIGHTLINK FERRY SPARKS MAJOR SEARCH

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Reports of a man jumping overboard from a Wightlink car ferry on the Solent has sparked a large search near to Portsmouth Harbour this lunchtime (Wednesday).

A statement issued by HM Coastguard says they are coordinating a search and rescue mission after reports of a man overboard off of a Wightlink ferry – St Cecilia – near to Portsmouth Harbour.

A Mayday call was received by Solent (UK) Coastguard at around 10:50 this morning.

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Wightlink crew launched their ships rescue boat, as soon as the crew were informed of the sighting of a male jumping overboard.

2 RNLI lifeboats from Bembridge and Portsmouth along with the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 175 are currently searching the area alongside Coastguard Rescue Teams from Hillhead and Portsmouth on the water.

Harbour patrol vessels and a Royal Navy vessel are also assisting with the efforts to find the male.

HM Coastguard has also broadcasted a relay message to vessels in the area requesting they respond and assist with the search.

Wightlink took to Twitter and tweeted to expect delays:

“Our Portsmouth – Fishbourne (car ferry service) Some customers may experience a few minutes delay as our teams have offered assistance to the coastguard with an ongoing incident in the Solent. We are sorry if this affects your travel plans.”

UPDATE 14:30 – A spokesperson for Wightlink ferries said:

“On the 10:30 St Cecilia car ferry from Portsmouth to Fishbourne a passenger was seen to jump overboard, just outside Portsmouth Harbour.

“The crew of St Cecilia deployed the ship’s rescue boat and the Coastguard is now the lead authority on this matter, with a number of vessels assisting in the search.

“St Cecilia is still in the area of the incident while authorities are trying to recover the person, with customers on board.”

UPDATE 15:30 – HM Coastguard has issued an update this afternoon:

”An extensive search has been carried out of the area around Portsmouth Harbour following reports of a man overboard from a ferry.

“Despite a thorough and comprehensive search by two RNLI lifeboats from Portsmouth, HM Coastguard’s search and rescue helicopter from Lee-on-Solent, Hillhead and Portsmouth Coastguard Rescue Teams and other vessels in the area, nothing has been found.

“The search has now been suspended, pending further information. It is now a missing person enquiry and will be handed over to the police.”

A spokesperson from Wightlink said how staff were saddened to hear the search had been called off, pending further investigation.

“Passengers on board the 10:30 sailing to Fishbourne, who witnessed the incident, alerted the crew.”

“The Captain of St Cecilia immediately launched the ship’s rescue boat. Several other vessels joined the search.”

Hampshire Constabulary has said they are are making enquiries to establish what has happened.

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