Saturday 20 January 2018

Major search for baby feared lost at sea in Belfast called off – police

David Young

A MAJOR search for a baby feared lost at sea has been called off after police said they believe initial reports that an infant fell from a ferry were incorrect.

The land and sea operation at the mouth of Belfast Lough was triggered after a woman plunged from the Stena Line boat as it made its way into port from Cairnryan in Scotland last night.

The 37-year-old Belfast woman was rescued within 15 minutes and taken to the city's Royal Victoria Hospital for treatment, where she remained in a stable condition today.

At the time of the incident it was reported that a baby had also entered the water with the woman, prompting extensive searches that began last night and continued this morning.

But after a complex police investigation, which included interviewing the woman's family, officers said they no longer believe a child was in her care at the time.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) spokesman said: "Police have called off the search operation in Belfast Lough which began yesterday evening after a report that a baby had gone into the water with a woman who was later rescued.

"Following an extensive search operation involving several agencies and volunteers and after enquiries with the 37-year-old woman and her family, police now understand the report of a baby going into the water was incorrect.

"Police do not believe there was a baby in the woman's care on the ferry.

"The woman, who is from Belfast, remains in a stable condition in hospital.

"Police enquiries are continuing."

The incident happened in the lough, close to Holywood, Co Down, at around 6.10pm on a busy shipping route for passengers and freight between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Agencies, including the police helicopter, the Irish Coastguard and the RNLI were involved in the search operation.

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