Two people rescued after search off Harwich coast

The RNLI lifeboat station at Harwich assisted Border Force officers in the search and rescue mission

The RNLI lifeboat station at Harwich assisted Border Force officers in the search and rescue mission - Credit: Yui Mok/PA

Two people are understood to have been rescued after a major search operation off the Harwich coast.

Border Force officers and RNLI lifeboat crews were undertaking a search and rescue mission off the Essex coast earlier today.

The lifeboats had also been called to areas between 26 miles and 35 miles off the East Anglian coast yesterday.

A source with knowledge of the search and rescue operation revealed two people had been rescued, and it is understood a dinghy has been recovered.

It is feared more people may be unaccounted for, but this has yet to be confirmed.

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. Searches have since ceased.

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."

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The Home Office confirmed that Border Force and the Coastguard were working on a co-ordinated search and rescue operation after an incident on Monday.

More information will be provided after the initial response and once the situation has been resolved, a department spokesman added.

Essex Police and East of England Ambulance Service was also made aware of the incident.

The search and rescue is not the the first time vessels out in the sea at Harwich have been brought to shore in a Border Force operation.

Three men are currently on trial at court accused of attempting to smuggle 69 Albanian nationals into the UK via a fishing trawler intercepted off the Essex coast last autumn.

Calls had previously been made to build more observation towers along the east coast in a bid to deter the number of people smugglers arriving in the UK.

This is a breaking news story. Be sure the check back on the website for further updates as they come in. 

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