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Hampshire police are preparing for the potential recovery of a 33-year-old missing man's body off the coast of Portsmouth.
Police were called at 3.45pm on Thursday, July 26, 2012 to reports that the man had gone into the water at Tower Street to rescue two children.
The 33-year-old entered the water to help the youngsters, a girl aged three and a 17-year-old boy, who had got into difficulty close to the entrance of Portsmouth Harbour yesterday afternoon, Hampshire Constabulary said.
Both the toddler, the teenager and another man who dived into the sea to help made it safely to dry land. All three are giving witness statements to the police.
But it is believed the missing rescuer, who was last seen close to the harbour entrance, may have been dragged under the surface by strong currents.
A search operation involving lifeboats, a Coastguard helicopter, Ministry of Defence police boats and a Coastguard rescue team was launched shortly after the incident at 3.40pm.
The Coastguard teams temporarily called off their search at about 10pm last night due to bad light.
A Solent Coastguard spokesman said: ''A final coastline search was carried out at sunrise before the search was called off.''
A woman working at the Wellington pub, who did not wish to be named, said the incident had happened on the beach across the road.
She said she believed the man had swum out to sea to rescue the two youngsters who were in distress.
Inspector Phil Jones from Hampshire Constabulary's Portsmouth District said:
“No remains or items linked with the 33-year-old have been located so far.
"Our Marine Unit remains on patrol along the coast near Portsmouth Harbour. We are working closely alongside officers on board the Ministry of Defence Police launch.
“Officers and staff from our Safer Neighbourhoods teams in coastal communities are on routine patrols along beaches and seafronts, looking for any signs of this man.
“Some of the man’s relatives have been told about the change in status to our operation. Officers are continuing to contact and inform other immediate family members.
“Hampshire Constabulary would like to thank partner agencies and members of the public at the scene on Thursday for their assistance.
“Witnesses and anyone with information about sightings of the missing man or a body are asked to contact Southsea police station.”