Sea teen 'unlikely to be found alive'

A TEENAGER who has been missing at sea for more than 36 hours is unlikely to be found alive, those behind the search operation conceded today.

A TEENAGER who has been missing at sea for more than 36 hours is unlikely to be found alive, those behind the search operation conceded today.

The missing man is understood to be City College Norwich student Mutaa Abudeeb, 19, who has not been seen since the dinghy he was in overturned in high winds off Britannia Pier on Sunday evening.

His 15-year-old brother, who was also in the dinghy, managed to get to shore safely and was taken to hospital where he was recovering from his ordeal.

However it is believed Mutaa, who is studying engineering at the college, is not a strong swimmer, and neither brother was wearing a lifejacket.

You may also want to watch:

Five lifeboats, an RAF search and rescue helicopter and two coastguard search teams spent Sunday evening and much of yesterday scouring the sea and shoreline for the teenager.

The search mission involved checking sandbanks and also the bases of the wind turbines at Scroby Sands, in the hope that the teenager had managed to clamber onto one of the engineers' platforms.

Most Read

However, today coastguards admitted it was now “extremely unlikely” that he would be found alive.

Ian Haines, coastguard watch assistant, said: “The conditions are such that anything out there is not likely to come ashore until the wind has changed. We have moved on from a rescue phase to a recovery phase.”

The search operation began at about 5.45pm on Sunday after the inflatable dinghy, purchased from a shop on the coast that day, overturned. It has not yet been recovered.

Within hours of the incident the teenagers' parents travelled from their home in Victoria Street, Norwich, to Yarmouth.

Yesterday, their father Habib Abudeeb, a carer, spent much of the day sitting on the beach at Yarmouth, awaiting news.

He was too upset to talk but two family friends, who were with him, said Mutaa and his four brothers, aged from 12 to 21, had left their home in Norwich on Sunday to spend the afternoon at the beach.

They said the group had bought a blue and white rubber inflatable dinghy from one of the seafront gift shops and had taken it to the water's edge before launching it.

Two of the brothers then jumped in and paddled out to sea, but at some stage the dinghy capsized and Mutaa was swept out to sea.

One of the friends said today: “The police are coming to talk to the family this morning. Everyone is in shock. We hope the press coverage will help the search and support finding Mutaa.”

The incident has prompted warnings from the coastguard about the dangers of going out to sea in inflatables.

Yesterday there was wide-spread shock in the seaside town over what had happened.

Sue Dimbleby, 44, of Copperfield Avenue, Yarmouth, said: “I have been in Yarmouth five years and I have never heard of anything like this. It's tragic.”

Terry Lee, 50, manager of the Playdeck fair at the bottom of the Britannia Pier, was packing up at about 5.40pm on Sunday when a girl asked him to ring the coastguard.

He said: “We could see the dinghy disappear into the distance. Through my binoculars I could see a young lad in the water swimming, but I did not see the other lad. He might have gone straight under.

“They were quite a way out to sea, towards the Scroby wind farm. I'm really shocked at what has happened. It was very windy on Sunday and I had to shut down some of my rides because of it. I could not open my slide.”

It also emerged yesterday that an emergency station close to the scene had been vandalised. A lifebelt was missing and the cord to an emergency telephone had been cut. It is not known whether anyone had tried to use it when the teen's inflatable capsized.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter