Major search operation under way for two missing fishermen off Norfolk coast
- Credit: Archant
Helicopters and lifeboats are searching for two missing fishermen off the Gorleston coast this evening.
Lifeboats from Gorleston and Caister were dispatched around 8pm after a cruise ship found three men in a life raft in the North Sea.
An Associated Press journalist onboard the Pacific Princess said the ship turned around to help the men after they sent up a flare.
HM coastguard said all three men were rescued, but they reported that two of their colleagues were unaccounted for.
Two helicopters, multiple merchant vessels, and two lifeboats from Norfolk are involved in the search.
Lee Duncan, Coastguard operations controller for the East Coast, said: 'The crew of the sunken fishing vessel are all foreign nationals. We know that the three recovered men had been in the life raft for four hours before they were spotted by the cruise ship.
'We believe the two missing crew were seen to enter the water. This is an ongoing incident and we have no further information at this time.'
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It is understood that the search area is located roughly 20 miles off the Gorleston coast.
Associated Press journalist Diana Heidgerd said the captain announced that the passenger ship, which was heading back to Dover after an eight-day cruise around the British Isles, was changing its course to rescue the men, who were floating in a black lifeboat with an orange cover.
She said the rescue took place late Saturday afternoon in 6ft (1.83m) seas off the coast of Norfolk.
Authorities on the ship manoeuvered close to the lifeboat and pulled the men aboard.
A Caister Lifeboat message said: 'Caister lifeboat paged at 19:52 to a sunken fishing boat 25 miles of Winterton. 3 fishing boat crew recovered in life raft by passing cruise ship who raised the alarm and 2 persons still missing. Many ships searching and 2 coastguard helicopters.'
Someone on board the cruise has claimed the coastguard had given it permission to carry on its journey to Dover.