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Update: Search will continue overnight for missing woman and two dogs after yacht and dredger crash off Suffolk/Essex coast

PUBLISHED: 21:31 08 June 2014 | UPDATED: 10:52 09 June 2014

The Shoreway dredger

The Shoreway dredger

Archant

A major search will continue overnight for a woman and two dogs missing off the Suffolk coast after a yacht was in collision with a dredger.

Westland Sea KingWestland Sea King

The Thames Coastguard has scrambled a huge rescue team to the incident, which took place around one mile off the coast of Felixstowe shortly before 1.30pm today.

A man who had been on board the yacht was quickly pulled to safety from the water and taken to hospital for precautionary checks. But the other occupants – a woman and two dogs – are still missing.

Their details have not been released. However, it is believed they were wearing life-jackets, and rescuers have not given up hope of finding them alive.

The yacht sank within five minutes of colliding with Shoreway, a 98m by 22m dredger. The name of the yacht has also not been released.

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

It is understood the rescued man was recovered by the dredger crew.

The full-scale sea search has covered a three-mile radius from where the collision took place. Rescue workers have been scouring Felixstowe’s coastline and Harwich International Port.

Tonight, it was decided the search would continue overnight, with at least one lifeboat remaining on the scene, before it is stepped up again tomorrow morning, a Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) spokesman said.

Stewart Oxley, of the Walton and Frinton Lifeboat Station, said the search operation would last for 23 hours – at least until lunchtime today – the amount of time for which “sophisticated software” calculated she could survive.

He said details such as the temperature and “state” of the sea, the flow of the tide and wind speeds and direction would have all been used to work out the survival period.

However, although there are a number of other variables such as what the missing woman was wearing, the odds of survival decrease significantly after an hour in the water.

A lower body temperature also makes it harder for the rescue helicopter’s infra-red camera to pick up a thermal image.

Involved in the search today was the Felixstowe Coastguard Rescue Team, three lifeboats – two from Harwich, one from Walton – two pilot boats, a dive boat, the search and rescue helicopter from RAF Wattisham along with a number of other vessels in the area.

Markers have been put down around the accident site to help divers searching the area at slack water find any clues to help the search.

At around 4pm, the search area was widened to at least three miles in all directions of the crash site after the currents and wind conditions were taken in to account.

A MCS spokesman said: “Thames Coastguard is coordinating a search after a yacht was in collision with a dredger approximately one mile off Felixstowe.

“The man who was rescued from the water has now been taken to hospital to be checked over. The other person on board the yacht – a woman – is still unaccounted for.

“We can confirm that the yacht sank soon after the collision.

“The search is still continuing this evening and at least one lifeboat will remain on scene to search throughout the night.”

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