Huge search mission after two passengers jump off ferry into North Sea

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A huge search and rescue mission was launched on Wednesday after two people jumped from a ferry into the North Sea.

The pair went overboard from the Stena Britannica ferry, a mile from Harwich at 9.45am. A police helicopter, RAF search and rescue helicopter and coastguard teams searched the Suffolk and Essex coast before the mission was called off at 13.30.

It is thought the two who jumped were Albanians being deported from the UK.

The ferry was heading from Harwich to the Hook of Holland and was carrying 92 passengers and 81 crew. The two men jumped off 45 minutes into the seven-hour crossing.

Piers Stanbury, watch officer for Thames Coastguard, said the search had been intensive, telling the BBC: "At the end we actually had 21 different units working on the search.

"We had found some clothing in the water which would indicate we were in the right area.

"We absolutely saturated the area with search units. If someone had been swimming or floating in that area we would have found them."

A Stena Line spokeswoman said a number of passengers had been refused entry into the UK, so were being sent back to the Netherlands where they had departed from.

According to the Mirror, she said: "Stena Line can confirm that two passengers are currently missing from the 09:00 sailing from Harwich to Hook of Holland.

"The two passengers are believed to have jumped overboard at approximately 09:45. The passengers were travelling on the Stena Britannica and the incident occurred off the coast of Felixstowe."

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