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Fears grow for missing kayaker as paddle found

A paddle has been found floating in the Irish Sea which may belong to missing kayaker Mark McGowan.

Mr McGowan was last seen heading to Carlingford Lough in Co Louth at around 7.30pm on Monday evening.

The search for the 37-year-old Carlingford local was brought to a close late last night.

The paddle was picked up by a fishing boat in the area and has since been taken away for examination.

Roy Teggarty, station master of Kilkeel lifeboat, said they were continuing to search for Mr McGowan, but it may now be “a recovery situation”.

“We were covering ground right from the mouth of Carlingford Lough from Cranfield... right up as far as Rostrevor,” he said.

“This person is still missing and we would hope to rescue — that is our job, search and rescue.

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“It may well be a recovery situation but at this stage we are still searching.”

Along with the Kilkeel lifeboat, the Co Down Coastguard scoured the lough for most of Tuesday.

The Greenore lifeboat and a search and rescue helicopter from Dublin were also involved in the operation.

The search, which is being jointly organised by the Belfast and Dublin Coastguard, had been delayed earlier because of bad weather.

Mr Teggarty said the lifeboats “worked well in shallow water” allowing the crews to get into places that the bigger boats were unable to.

Tom Byrne, a station officer with the Irish Coastguard, said that Mr McGowan's kayak had been found at Killowen Point on the north side of the lough on Tuesday.

Police have appealed for anyone who knows of Mr McGowan’s whereabouts or saw his blue kayak to get in touch.

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