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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Baby feared dead after falling into sea

Victoria O'Hara and Anna Maguire

A BABY is feared dead after falling from a ferry into Belfast Lough in the North.

A major air and sea search operation began yesterday after the baby and a woman fell from a superfast Stena Line ferry as it made its way into Belfast port from Cairnryan in Scotland at around 6pm yesterday.

Both the woman and infant plunged into the sea close to Holywood, Co Down.

Ferry passengers who witnessed the incident immediately raised the alarm.

A number of agencies, including the police helicopter, the Irish Coast Guard and the Bangor and Donaghadee RNLI were involved in the search.

The Coast Guard said the woman was rescued from the freezing water by a pilot boat at around 6.25pm -- 15 minutes after the alarm was raised. She was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast and treated for suspected hypothermia.

A spokesperson for the Belfast Health Trust said she remained in a stable condition last night.

Hope the baby would be found alive was fading last night after the rescue operation was called off at around 10pm.

The age or sex of the infant has not been confirmed. Sources, however, have suggested it is just days old.

During the operation, police boarded the Stena Superfast VII, which was carrying 318 passengers and crew, after it had docked.

All Stena Line sailings to and from Belfast were cancelled and Belfast Port was closed for a period of time.

Aircraft and vessels were due to start the search at 6am today while a shoreline search involving the coast guard was to resume at 8am.

John McPoland of the Ambulance Service said the woman was lucky to be alive.

"She had been in the water for a while and you can understand that from the coldness of that water, she would have been thermic," Mr McPoland said.

Irish Independent

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