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Man dies and two feared dead after boat sinks in English Channel

A rescued man was found in the water by a fishing vessel two miles from Shoreham’s harbour.

One man has died and two more are missing feared dead after a boat sank following a suspected collision off the south coast.

A major search and rescue operation was launched after the vessel went down off Shoreham in West Sussex early on Sunday.

The vessel left Shoreham harbour just after midnight on Sunday for a leisure fishing trip and “was apparently struck by a larger vessel” around two hours later, Sussex Police said.

The alarm was only raised shortly before 6am when a fourth man was discovered by a fishing boat crew “clinging to a buoy”, two miles west of the town’s harbour.

The four men on board were all Romanian, two living in London and two in Brighton, police said.

Two of them are related but officers did not reveal any further details.

The 45-year-old survivor, from London, is stable in hospital after being rushed to shore.

Matt Pavitt, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s south east coastal operations area commander, told the BBC: “Anybody that spends that length of time, numerous hours potentially, in the sea without any protective equipment, at this time of year it’s a nice day but the sea is still cold, is very, very lucky to be alive.”

Up to 15 boats and ships, aided by two coastguard helicopters from Lydd and Lee-on-Solent, were involved in the search before it was suspended early on Sunday afternoon.

They included lifeboats from Shoreham and Brighton and some 10 vessels from the nearby Rampion offshore wind farm.

Coastguard Rescue Teams from Shoreham and Littlehampton were also involved in a search that included combing beaches between Brighton and Worthing on the Sussex coast.

The body of the dead man was found at around 8.15am.

Coastguard controller Andy Jenkins saying: “Following an extensive search of the area using multiple assets nothing further has been found at this time so the decision has been made to suspend the search pending further information.

“A review of the incident details will be ongoing through the rest of the day.”

The boat sank in the English Channel off the Sussex coast (Oliver Button/PA)

Sussex Police and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch have launched an investigation into the tragedy.

Detective Chief Inspector Rachel Carr said: “We are now trying to establish the circumstances and to identify the other vessel involved.

“An earlier appeal for information prompted a significant number of calls and I would like to thank people for their prompt responses, which enabled us to quickly identify who had been involved.

“Our thoughts are with the families and friends of all those who have been involved in this tragic incident.”

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