Tyne & Wear

Northumberland coast dinghy mystery solved

Recovered dinghy
Image caption The dinghy was spotted by a Dutch vessel drifting 15 miles (24km) out to sea

The occupant of a dinghy, which sparked a major search operation after it was found empty off the Northumberland coast, has been traced.

The 6.5ft (2m) craft was spotted drifting 15 miles (24km) out to sea by a Dutch vessel at 19:00 BST on Monday.

Fish, personal belongings and radio equipment were on board and it was feared the owner had gone overboard.

It has now emerged that a fisherman using it became ill, and the boat drifted off when he came back to shore.

The 40-year-old was fishing close to Cambois beach, near Blyth, on Sunday when he began to suffer suspected hypothermia.

An 18 year-old relative who was with him managed to get him off the boat and remove the outboard engine before the boat drifted away.

The coastguard, RNLI lifeboats and an RAF rescue helicopter were involved in the late night search operation, which was called off just before midnight.

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