Ferry Passenger Search Called Off

A search for a woman believed to have fallen overboard a ferry has been called off.

The crew of the Condor Rapide Fast Ferry, which was en route from Guernsey to Poole in Dorset, raised the alarm at 5.35pm yesterday.

The British and French coastguard, as well as RNLI lifeboats from Alderney and Weymouth and a search plane from the Channel Islands, were last night searching the route of the ferry to find the missing passenger, a spokeswoman for the HM Coastguard said.

Portland Coastguard suspended the search at 10pm last night.

The French Coastguard said the operation would not be resumed today, while a Portland Coastguard spokesman said the final decision would be taken this morning.

But he added:

 ''There are no immediate plans to restart the search.''

Nigel Robson, Portland Coastguard Watch manager, said last night:

''We have searched the route of the ship and the areas where our search planning expertise indicate a person might have been carried by the tide.

''Sadly, we have found no-one.

''It's now been five hours since the person was reported missing and because of the water temperature and difficulty of searching in the dark, we have now called off the search.''

A spokesman for Condor Ferries said yesterday:

''At 5.35pm today crew were made aware of a possible missing person situation onboard Condor Rapide.

''The captain raised a Pan Pan with the coastguard and a full search was conducted of the vessel.

''The passenger was unable to be found and the Pan Pan was upgraded to a Mayday.

''Condor Rapide is currently engaged in searching the area where the passenger is believed to have gone missing, and Portland Coastguard is co-ordinating.

''The Portland Coastguard helicopter has been scrambled and other vessels in the area are participating in the search.

''The ferry was en route from Guernsey to Poole.''