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Air And Sea Search Stood Down

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10:00am 28th November 2014
(Updated 10:00am 28th November 2014)

A big air and sea search off Fowey has been stood down amid speculation it was sparked because of a prank.

It is after a boat was found with its motor running - but nobody onboard.

The discovery was made in the early hours, with Brixham coastguard launching the operation.

Two lifeboats, harbour patrols and a police boat have been scouring the area.

A helicopter from RNAS Culdrose was also scrambled.

It has been using infrared search technology overnight.

The boat was discovered at around 3.15am.

A spokesperson for Fowey lifeboat said: "This hunt took 3 and a half hours with no sign of displaced person/s. 

"The lifeboats were stood down but warned that the search could be resumed if someone was reported missing later."

CCTV has been handed to police - after seeming to show a group gathering round boats overnight.

The search was begun because the rib – a Hondwave ME400 - was found running in neutral on fast idle with the killswitch disabled by 2 cable ties.

The starboard oar was loose, suggesting it could have been grabbed from someone in the water. The port oar was still strapped to the boat.

After searching the whole harbour using flares and searchlights and thermal imaging cameras a lifeboat was stationed at the harbour entrance as the tide had been dropping throughout the search period. 

The search was concentrated on the area between Albert Quay and Readymoney as the rib was found drifting between Albert and Town Quays.

The police were asked to check pubs in the area for reports of anyone who had been in the water.

Coastguards searched all areas with access to the water on both sides of the estuary again and again.

The 12 ft rib with 40hp engine was moored to the Committee pontoon off Town Quay for safety.

Shortly before 5.30am a local inflatable was found on rocks close to the Royal Fowey Yacht Club instead of on its usual mooring. Its painter was missing. It was taken to Albert Quay.

The Harbour Commissioners’ CCTV is currently being checked for evidence of persons tampering with boats on Albert Quay. It was confirmed with the owner of the rib that the killswitch had not been disabled by her.

The search was called off at 6.30am after an extensive hunt of the entire area.

The 2 RNLI lifeboats and the RNLI boarding boat were returned to station and made ready for service by 7am.

Devon and Cornwall Police have released the following statement:

"Police were called by the Coastguard around 3.30am after reports of an unmanned boat in the water off Town Quay, Fowey.

"Officers carried out enquiries to establish who the keeper of the boat was and to ensure that they were safe and well.

"Investigations established no one was on board the boat and the owners were accounted for.

Officers are now investigating how the boat became loose from its mooring."

10:00am 28th November 2014

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