Two men rescued but one still missing after search off Essex coast

·3-min read
The RNLI's Albert Brown lifeboat at the RNLI Lifeboat Station in Harwich, Essex. A search and rescue mission is taking place off the coast of Essex. Border Force officers are urgently responding to an ongoing incident in the sea near the port town of Harwich, the Home Office said. Picture date: Tuesday October 26, 2021.
The RNLI's Albert Brown lifeboat at the RNLI Lifeboat Station in Harwich, Essex. (PA)

Two men travelling in a small boat off the Essex coast have been rescued, while a search for a third person has ended.

The rescued pair are both Somali nationals and it is understood they are now being processed within immigration rules.

Border Force and the coastguard helped with the rescue on Monday afternoon off the coast of Harwich.

But an “extensive search” for a third man, involving the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Border Force and the RNLI, was called off at around 2pm on Tuesday.

A view of Harwich Docks in Harwich, Essex, in May. (File photo: PA Images via Getty Images)
A view of Harwich Docks in Harwich, Essex, in May. (File photo: PA Images via Getty Images)
An AgustaWestland AW189 helicopter from HM Coastguard comes in to land on the cliff side near to Overcombe in Dorset, during a training exercise.
A file photo of a helicopter from HM Coastguard. (PA)

The Home Office described the incident as a “reminder of the extreme dangers of crossing the Channel in small boats” and vowed they are “determined to do everything we can to prevent people dying in the Channel”.

A spokesperson for the department said: “This afternoon an extensive search and rescue operation for a man reported to have entered the water off the Essex coast concluded.

“We want to thank those who responded to this incident and who continue to work tirelessly to protect lives at sea whilst securing our border.

“While the investigation into this incident continues, it is a reminder of the extreme dangers of crossing the Channel in small boats and the callous disregard for life shown by the criminal gangs.

“We are determined to do everything we can to prevent people dying in the Channel.”

Harwich lifeboat launched at 4.05pm on Monday, returned and then launched again at 11.35pm, before going back to shore at 8am on Tuesday.

The RNLI said: “RNLI lifeboats from Harwich and Walton and Frinton were involved in a search and rescue operation to a suspected person in the water.

“All have been stood down by HM Coastguard, who are continuing to co-ordinate the search with Border Force.”

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said a Coastguard helicopter and a plane were sent to the incident, adding: “HM Coastguard has been co-ordinating a search and rescue response to an incident off Essex, working with Border Force and other partners.”

Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “Tragically, this is not the first time somebody has gone missing attempting the dangerous journey across the seas to Britain in search of safety.

An officer looks out of a window at Dover harbour from a Border Force boat, in Dover, Britain August 11, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A UK Border Force boat pictured in Dover in August 2020. (File photo: Reuters)

“The sad reality is that unless this government fundamentally changes its approach by committing to an ambitious expansion of safe routes for those in need of protection, the lives of ordinary men, women and children will be at risk of being lost in this way.

“Every day, people are forced to flee their home through no fault of their own and we must do more to make the journey safer.

“This government’s cruel and ineffective plans of seeking to punish or push away those who try and find safety in our country must end immediately.”

On Tuesday, UK authorities rescued or intercepted 145 people in five incidents, while French authorities intercepted five events, preventing 137 people from reaching the UK, the Home Office said.

On Sunday, UK authorities rescued or intercepted 29 people and there were no French interceptions, the department added.

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