Missing kayaker: Larne RNLI aids search for Carrickfergus man

Lifeboat launched

Lifeboat launched

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A massive search and rescue operation resumed this morning in a bid to find a Carrickfergus kayaker, missing since yesterday afternoon

Robert Hanna, 47, was expected back on shore at Islandmagee at about 3pm yesterday, but failed to return.

The alarm was raised with the coastguard at about 7pm.

Four helicopters, six lifeboats and four coastguard teams have been assisting in the search operation.

The search has been extended along the coast from Carrickfergus to Glenarm.

On the other side of Belfast Lough, searches have also been taking place between Crawfordsburn and Donaghadee.

A distress broadcast has also been issued to fishing vessels in the area.

Volunteer lifeboat crew from Larne, Red Bay, Bangor and Donaghadee RNLI searched for the missing man throughout the early hours, stopping at 3.30am for a short rest and to allow lifeboats to refuel.

Despite the darkness, weather conditions for searching were described as good during the night with clear visibility.

This morning, Larne RNLI’s all-weather and inshore lifeboats and Red Bay RNLI’s inshore lifeboat launched once again, while Campletown RNLI in Scotland also joined the search. The operation is being coordinated by Belfast Coastguard.

Larne RNLI was first requested to launch at 7.30pm yesterday evening, following a report of a missing kayaker who had set sail from Portmuck at 1.30pm. The kayaker was due to return to shore at 3pm.

Larne RNLI’s all-weather and inshore lifeboats were initially launched to search from Portmuck to Whitehead before moving to search the area of Gobbins Path. Red Bay RNLI meanwhile was diverted while on a training exercise and requested to go southwards towards Larne.

Later, at 9.30pm, the search was extended and both the inshore lifeboat from Bangor and the all-weather lifeboat from Donaghadee launched. Bangor RNLI initially searched the Groomsport area before moving across back up into Belfast Lough while Donaghadee searched the Copelands area.

As the search got underway once again this morning, Darren Byers, RNLI Divisional Operations Manager, said: ‘Our volunteers have had a short break to rest and refuel their lifeboats but are now back out and will be making every attempt this morning to find the missing kayaker and bring him home. Our thoughts and prayers are very much with the man and his family at this time.’