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Bodies of two friends pulled from sea off Brighton after dinghy found drifting

A huge search and rescue operation was launched on Monday after an inflatable dinghy was seen drifting out at sea early in the afternoon.

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A view of the old pier in Brighton, Sussex (Steve Parsons/PA)

A view of the old pier in Brighton, Sussex (Steve Parsons/PA)

A view of the old pier in Brighton, Sussex (Steve Parsons/PA)

The bodies of two friends have been pulled from the sea off the coast of Brighton.

A huge search and rescue operation was launched on Monday after an inflatable dinghy was seen drifting out at sea early in the afternoon.

The worrying discovering prompted lifeboats and coastguard to spend nine hours scouring the waters on Monday and searches resumed on Tuesday morning.

The body of a man was recovered from the English Channel just after 5pm on Monday, police said.

He has not yet been identified but he is believed to be linked to the unoccupied green dinghy.

Police said the dinghy contained “some personal effects” appearing to belong to someone living in Sussex.

As police sought to establish his identity it became apparent that his friend was also missing.

Emergency searches continued on Monday evening until 11pm and resumed on Tuesday morning at 6am.

About 8.45am on Tuesday a body was spotted by the coastguard helicopter and brought ashore on a lifeboat.

The body has not been formally identified but is believed to be that of the missing man, police said.

His next of kin have been informed.

HM Coastguard dealt with 340 individual incidents across the whole of the UK on Saturday, its highest amount of call-outs in a single day for over four years.

PA