Update: Body found near Felixstowe in search for missing woman and dog after yacht and dredger collision

Search and Rescue operation off the coast of Felixstowe. Search and Rescue operation off the coast of Felixstowe.

Monday, June 9, 2014
7:40 PM

Crews searching for a woman missing from a yacht which sank off the Suffolk coast have found a body.

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The Thames Coastguard was scrambled to reports that a yacht, named tonight as Orca, had sunk after colliding with a dredger about a mile off Felixstowe on Sunday afternoon.

A man and a dog who were on board the yacht were pulled to safety but a woman, with another dog, was missing.

A dive team from Norfolk Fire Service spent the day about five nautical miles out to sea around the area of the wreck, Suffolk Constabulary said.

A force spokesman said: “At approximately 5pm this afternoon, a body of a woman was recovered from the sea in the area where the yacht sank.

“Although formal identification has not yet taken place, it is believed the body is that of the woman who had been on board the yacht.

“The second dog has not been found.

“The woman’s body has been taken ashore and a post mortem examination will take place in due course.”

Authorities are still declining to disclose any information about the man and woman who were on board the yacht which sank within five minutes of colliding with Shoreway, a 98m by 22m dredger, at around 1.30pm on Sunday.

However, it is understood they were married and from East Anglia.

Tonight, Thames Coastguard confirmed the name of the yacht was Orca. The spokesman said the yacht was believed to be “local to the area”.

Roy Harold, deputy chief fire officer at Norfolk Fire Service, said the body was found “inside the yacht”.

He said: “We got a call this morning from Suffolk police who were assisting the coastguard following yesterday’s collision. The team went out at about 2pm.

“The first diver found the missing person inside the yacht. It was quite difficult diving conditions, they were working against the current inside the yacht – which was about eight or nine metres long. It was quite a challenging environment, but they were able to recover a body.”

He added: “I have sailed those waters and it is a very busy area for commercial ships. We would want to relay the message to keep a good look out when you are at sea, and to make sure that your safety equipment is in good working order.”

It is understood the man was pulled to safety by crew on board the dredger. He was taken to hospital to be checked over, after sustaining suspected cuts to his hands, before being released on Sunday night.

He is being kept abreast of any developments by Suffolk Constabulary.

A joint investigation in to the circumstances surrounding the collision will now be carried out by Suffolk Constabulary and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch.

Stewart Oxley, of the Walton and Frinton Lifeboat Station, described the incident as a “tragic accident”.

He said: “There were blue skies, good visibility and a calm sea, so you are expecting to get a call-out about a lillo being swept out to sea or something like that, so the collision between two vessels was (difficult to imagine).”

He said the dredger has been moored at Harwich International Port and confirmed that investigators have inspected the vessel and spoken to its crew members as the investigation gathers pace.

Initial findings could be released between a few weeks and a couple of months, he said, before a full report is compiled.

He said radar plots and witness reports from crew members of other nearby vessels will also be used as part of the investigation.

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