Belfast Telegraph

Police take over search for kayaker Robert Hanna missing off Antrim coast

By Rebecca Black

Police have taken the lead in a search for a kayaker who went missing in the Irish Sea last night.

An intense land and water search for the 47-year-old started on Monday evening and continued today.

The PSNI last night named the missing man as Robert Hanna from the Carrickfergus area.

He is believed to have left Portmuck in a kayak at 1.30pm yesterday afternoon. He has not been seen since then.

A friend raised the alarm at around 7pm.

The search continued today as last night Mr Hanna had still not been located despite a major air and sea search involving three helicopters, including a search and rescue Royal Navy Sea King from Prestwick in Scotland with heat-seeking equipment.

Coastguard officers at Bregenz House in Bangor were co-ordinating the search. They said they were alerted just before 7pm.

The search effort was widespread and included the Irish Coast Guard rescue helicopter based at Dublin, the police helicopter, lifeboats from Redbay, Donaghadee, Bangor and the all-weather and inshore lifeboats from Larne, along with Coastguard rescue teams from Portmuck, Larne and Bangor.

Around 8pm, the search area was extended to include Belfast Lough. Around an hour later, it was extended further up to the Maidens area of the Irish Sea off the coast of Ballygally.

However on Tuesday afternoon a spokesperson for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said decision had been taken to "stand down".

This has now been taken over by the PSNI.

He said: "We know that he was expected home before the Coastguard got the alarm so he's been missing for about 23 hours now.

"The team has taken the decision to stand down.

"He has been missing for a long time and there have been no sightings.

"All the assets including the rescue helicopters and the lifeboats will be stood down. The coastguard rescue officers will continue over the next few days to keep a visual and look out for anything.

"There does come a point where you have to make that very difficult call. It's devastatingly sad for his friends and family but we have tried and we couldn't find him.”

Taking the lead in the search PSNI said they will continue to search "in the hope of finding and getting him back safely to his family".

Superintendent Ryan Henderson said: “Police received the report that Mr Hanna was missing on Monday afternoon. Since then an extensive air, land and sea search, stretching along the coast and over to Scotland, has been conducted under the coordination of the Coast Guard.

"Unfortunately this has not yet led us to find Mr Hanna. Over the coming hours and days we will continue to work with search and rescue teams, concentrating on the coast line, in the hope of finding him and getting him back safely to his family.

“I would ask anyone who has any information that may assist us with our enquiries to contact the PSNI on the non emergency number 101.”

Belfast Telegraph


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