Search called off for woman who was swept out to sea after night out in Brighton

The Argus: Emergency services searching off the beach in the early hours. Photo by Max Langran Emergency services searching off the beach in the early hours. Photo by Max Langran

A 36-year-old woman is feared to have been swept out to sea in Brighton this morning.

She went missing in rough waves at around 2.20am.

Sussex Police said the woman had been walking along the beach between the West Pier and the Palace Pier with a man she knew, and with whom she just been in a seafront club, when she ran into the water and was almost immediately swept off by a large wave.

Police officers, club staff and a friend tried to help her but she was "washed further away and was inaccessible due to the very heavy sea conditions," according to police.

No person or body has yet been found.

Her reason for running into the water is not clear, but the incident is not being treated as suspicious.

Next of kin are being contacted by specially trained family liaison officers.

Sussex Police said: "At 0220, police received reports that a woman had been swept out to sea opposite the Digital nightclub on Brighton seafront.

"Police, ambulance, and coastguard attended. A helicopter was also deployed to search."

Specialist Coastguard Water Rescue Officers from Shoreham and Littlehampton and the crew of the RNLI Inshore Lifeboat based at Brighton, plus volunteers from Shoreham RNLI, joined them at the scene to work as ‘spotters’ to help the helicopter and lifeboat try to find the person in the water.

They searched for six hours but weren't able to find her.

Solent Coastguard Watch Manager Paul Marlow said: “We believe that a couple went in to the sea after a night out on the town. One managed to get back out of the rough sea but sadly the other was swept out to sea.

"Gale force wind, rough seas and darkness make it difficult to spot a person in the water who needs help and so our request is simple – please don’t end your night out with a dip. Cold water and powerful seas mean that it’s really not as much fun as you might think.”

Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp, from Sussex Police, said: "Police and Coastguard searched for several hours in very difficult and dangerous weather but have been unable to locate the woman.

"We will continue to be vigilant for any sightings along the beach. The sea was very rough indeed overnight, and we always urge people to be very careful and stay away from the waters edge anywhere along the coast when the weather is so bad."

Keith Phelps, a volunteer at Shoreham RNLI, said the weather conditions were extremely severe.

He added: "Myself and my crew were asleep when we got the emergency call. We launched the lifeboat within about seven minutes.

"We've not been asked to go back out but if we do we'll be ready.

"It's been a long time now and very often people missing in these situations will end up missing for a long time."

Sussex Police said some witnesses have come forward but anyone else who saw what happened is asked to call 101, or e-mail contact.centre@sussex.pnn.police.uk and quote "Operation Ivy".

Do you know the woman or see what happened? Call 01273 544 682 or e-mail news@theargus.co.uk

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