Seven-hour search and rescue called off as men found safe in France

Three men in an open boat sparked a seven-hour search and rescue yesterday (thursday) involving coastguards, lifeboats, helicopters and eventually the police – on both sides of the Channel.

The alarm was raised just after 10AM by a 999 call from the mother of one of the men, who she described as having ‘mental health issues’.

The search continued until around 6pm, when French authorities confirmed that the boat, which had a small outboard, had landed between Cap Gris Nez and Calais and the occupants had been arrested.

Murray Milligan, of Dover Coastguard, said: “This is an extremely busy shipping lane and we understand that none of the three had any experience in sailing or navigation, which made this a particularly dangerous undertaking.”

A spokesman for Kent police confirmed the men had returned to the UK and would not be facing charges.