Two men are still missing after entering rough seas from Brighton beach in the early hours of this morning.
The men, in their twenties, were part of a group of four on the beach. At least three of them went into the water. One of the group called the coastguard at about 1am to report the pair missing.
Sussex Police said: “Initial information leads officers to believe that the second man to have been swept out had gone to the rescue of the first.
“These men, aged 23 and 24, are from Brighton. In the group was a 26-year-old man from Brighton and a 23-year-old from London.”
The coastguard launched a full search involving more than 50 people including RNLI lifeboat volunteers, police, ambulance and beach staff, hampered by the stormy conditions.
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The coastguard helicopter joined the search which ran from Brighton Marina to the West Pier. After almost five hours the teams were stood down without the men being found and the operation has now turned into a recovery mission. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency told Press Association: “The conditions for searching overnight were awful – it was pitch black and the sea was extremely choppy. It was very difficult to search. “Very sadly, nothing has been found and it is very unlikely that anything will be. “This has turned into a recovery mission. Very sadly there is no chance of finding them alive.”
This video was shot by PA reporter Ruth Lumley and published on Vine
“Land search teams walked and rewalked several times the beach particularly around the Palace Pier while both all-weather lifeboats completed a thorough sea search.
“Coastguard helicopter Rescue 104 scanned the area with thermal camera equipment as well as visual searching using the aircrafts searchlights several times.
Despite our very best efforts in unforgiving weather conditions we were unable to locate either of the missing persons and the teams “were stood down shortly before 6am
“On behalf of the land search teams I would like to pass on our thanks to the Queen’s Hotel for providing the entire team with a free hot drink.”
Detective Chief Inspector Carwyn Hughes said: “This is a tragic incident and we are liaising closely with the men’s families.
“Every effort was made to find and rescue the two men in treacherous sea conditions during the night. Sadly the search is now focused on recovery rather than rescue.
“This morning HM Coastguard are recommencing a search to the west of the Palace Pier and this is being supported by Sussex Police specialist search officers and Sussex Search and Rescue volunteers and dog teams on the relevant beach areas.
“The local Brighton seafront officers have been maintaining searches of the beach throughout the night and will continue to do so.
“Unfortunately the weather conditions preclude the use of aerial sweeps by the National Police Air Support Service.
“This is a very sad situation and with the sea condition as it is I would urge people for their safety to refrain from entering the sea.”