Angler feared dead as floods hit region
A SUFFOLK angler was last night feared dead after he was washed out to sea by a freak wave as floods battered the region. The man, aged in his 40s was walking with a friend along Kessingland beach, near Lowestoft, at 6.
A SUFFOLK angler was last night feared dead after he was washed out to sea by a freak wave as floods battered the region.
The man, aged in his 40s was walking with a friend along Kessingland beach, near Lowestoft, at 6.55am yesterday when he was knocked off his feet by a wave and dragged out to sea.
A major search and rescue operation was launched after his friend, who had been unable to save him, immediately alerted the police and the coastguard.
Lifeboat teams from Lowestoft, Southwold and Caister, with the assistance of the search and rescue helicopter from Wattisham Airfield, trawled the surface of the waves.
Meanwhile Lowestoft and Gorleston coastguard teams carried out shoreline searches for the man, who is believed to be from Lowestoft.
But after six hours the sea search was called off, and even after one last search of the beaches at high tide the only evidence they had found of the man was his fishing tackle box.
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At dusk, with large waves still battering the shore, two friends of the angler continued to look for him in icy wind and rain - the man who had seen him washed away, clearly distraught.
The two men, who were close friends and avid anglers, had been heading for the popular fishing spot at Benacre sluice when the tragedy happened.
Yesterday a mutual friend of both men, Paul Carter said: “I just got a phone call this morning from another one of my friends who was with him when he was washed away. I just came straight away to see what I could do and to be here for him.
“They were just walking to the site when a wave just came in a knocked him away. This is an eye opener for fishermen to be so much more aware of the power of the sea, it is just so unpredictable.
“At the moment we are just clinging and clinging to the hope he is going to be found but the longer this goes on the more our hopes are dashed. He is a fighter, I just hope he is holding on.”
Last night a spokesman for Yarmouth Coastguard said: “We have carried out an extensive search of the surface with three lifeboats and a helicopter, if he had been on the surface we would have found him.”
He added: “As time goes on the chances of finding him alive are becoming more and more remote, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility.”
Lifeboat teams searching for the man described horrendous conditions, including 15ft high waves breaking around them.
Paul Poppy, who runs the nearby Sailors Home pub, yesterday described the conditions on the beach as treacherous.
He said: “I have been here for two years and that is the roughest I have ever seen the sea. When I looked out the window this morning the waves were rolling 20ft to 30ft closer than normal, with high tides and strong winds. It was severe weather.
“I have been fishing for 17 years and I would have taken one look at those conditions and turned back.
“There were no anglers on the beach last night or the night before that because the weather has been so bad, I just can't understand why they went out in it.”
The combination of gale force winds and the high tide on Tuesday saw areas of north Suffolk, including Southwold and Walberswick, flooded.
Roads were closed in Reydon and Dunwich due to the floods and the A12 was closed at Blythburgh after water spilled over the river wall forming a 40metre puddle, leaving vehicles attempting to travel through, stranded.