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Suspicious packages on boat

PUBLISHED: 04:05 14 August 2002 | UPDATED: 12:28 03 March 2010

POLICE were called to Felixstowe beach after rescuers reported suspicious packages, believed to contain drugs, in a speedboat stuck on a sandbank.

Officers and coast patrol and rescue volunteers searched the vessel when it was towed ashore and also carried out a full-scale search of the beach after it was claimed the packages had been thrown overboard.

POLICE were called to Felixstowe beach after rescuers reported suspicious packages, believed to contain drugs, in a speedboat stuck on a sandbank.

Officers and coast patrol and rescue volunteers searched the vessel when it was towed ashore and also carried out a full-scale search of the beach after it was claimed the packages had been thrown overboard.

However, no packages were found either on the boat, in the sea or washed up.

The two men in the craft were interviewed by police, but no-one was arrested.

John Cresswell, chairman of the Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol Rescue Service, said the group had sent its patrol boat Volunteer to tow in the small powerboat after it had broken down.

It had lost power and been grounded on the outer Deben Bar – a problem many small vessels and dinghies have suffered this summer due to the shifting sands and fast currents in the river estuary.

As the crew towed in the casualty, Mr Cresswell said they became suspicious at the behaviour of the two men – both non-swimmers – and believed that there were some packages on board.

They radioed via the Thames Coastguard to alert police and ask them to meet them at Felixstowe Ferry with the boat and the occupants.

Mr Cresswell said volunteer crew members had been sure they had seen packages on the speedboat and believed they may have been dumped at sea during the tow-in operation.

A police spokeswoman said officers had been called to The Ferry at about 6pm on Sunday after reports that a small boat was carrying packages believed to be illegal drugs.

"Officers were sent to the scene and a search was made of the craft and the area but nothing was found," she said.

The incident is the latest in a series following concerns that drugs and illegal immigrants are being smuggled into the country via small boats into harbours or straight onto beaches, away from the eyes of authority.

The police spokeswoman urged anyone finding suspicious packages on the beaches at Felixstowe and elsewhere on the county's coast at any time to ring police immediately on 999.

"We would rather check it out – as we did on this occasion – and find it was a false alarm than someone not call us for a genuine incident. Contact us and let us investigate and decide," she added.

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