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Man’s body found in Lagan after 48-hour hunt

The agonising wait for the family of a man believed to have jumped into the River Lagan ended last night after his body was found.

A PSNI spokeswoman confirmed that members of the search team located the body close to the Lagan Weir at about 3pm yesterday.

Police could not release details of the man’s identity, but said they do not believe there are any suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.

The discovery of the body ended almost 48 hours of intensive searches by police divers, assisted by members of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, RNLI and Lagan Weir officials.

The man’s family had maintained a vigil at the riverbank as the search continued. But as the body was hauled to the surface, a tearful group of friends and relatives gathered on the Queen’s Bridge and watched.

The young man's father, who declined to give his son's name, spoke as the search was being carried out and said: “We just want to find his body. It's too raw to say anything else at the moment.”

The major search and rescue operation was launched after the man fell into the River Lagan in the early hours of Monday.

However, with temperatures plummeting to below zero across Northern Ireland during the night, it was believed he had not survived the fall into the water and the rescue operation was scaled down in order to retrieve his body.

The search operation was then halted on Monday evening due to fading light but a team of five police divers resumed their search of the riverbed around the Queen's Bridge in Belfast as dawn broke yesterday morning.

The young man, who was from the Belfast area and in his late twenties, is understood to have thrown himself from the bridge at around 3am on Monday morning.

Police said the eyewitness report of a passing taxi driver suggested he jumped into the river.

Sergeant Elvin Leech, leader of the police diving team, said the chances of survival in the winter weather would have been slim.

He said: “Within less than two minutes his body would have gone into shock and hypothermia would have set in. He would have had less than 20 minutes.”

Sergeant Leech said his sympathies were with the family.

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