'No Chance' Of Finding Men Missing In Brighton Sea Alive, As Massive Search Continues (Pictures)

Two men in their 20s who are missing at sea feared dead are believed to have got into difficulty after one tried to rescue the other.

The search for the men off the coast of Brighton turned into a recovery mission this morning, with "no chance of finding them alive", following an overnight search by rescue crews in severe weather conditions, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said.

Sussex Police said three of four men who were on the beach are believed to have entered the water, with two, aged 23 and 24, from Brighton, swept out to sea.

The search was called off and then began again at dawn

A 26-year-old man from Brighton and a 23-year-old man from London raised the alarm shortly after 1am, police said.

The Coastguard co-ordinated the search throughout the night with two all-weather lifeboats, a rescue helicopter and two shoreline rescue teams from Shoreham and Newhaven.

The search for the men, who were believed to have been on a night out in the town before entering the choppy water, was stood down at about 4.30am.

Volunteer lifeboat crews resumed searches close to the shoreline at first light, although the helicopter crews returned to base having "exhausted all possible options", the coastguard said.

A spokesman said: "The conditions for searching overnight were awful - it was pitch black and the sea was extremely choppy. It was very difficult to search.

"The helicopter and the all-weather lifeboats searched the area overnight but started to stand down at about 4.30am. They felt they had done all they could.

"Very sadly, nothing has been found and it is very unlikely that anything will be.

"This has turned into a recovery mission. Very sadly there is no chance of finding them alive.

"The coastguard remains on site but the searches will mostly be in and around the shoreline."

Hunt For Men Missing In Brighton Sea

Detective Chief Inspector Carwyn Hughes, from Sussex Police, said: "This is a tragic incident and we are liaising closely with the men's families.

"Every effort was made to find and rescue the two men in treacherous sea conditions during the night.

"Sadly, the search is now focused on recovery rather than rescue."

He said the Coastguard had restarted the search to the west of the Palace Pier this morning with the support of Sussex Police specialist search officers, Sussex Search and Rescue volunteers and dog teams.

Mr Hughes continued: "The Brighton seafront officers have been maintaining searches of the beach throughout the night and will continue to do so.

"Unfortunately, the weather conditions preclude the use of aerial sweeps by the National Police Air Support Service.

"This is a very sad situation and with the sea condition as it is I would urge people for their safety to refrain from entering the sea."

Emergency services were also called after an 18-year-old man was seen entering the sea in Brighton shortly before 9am.

The man, who had taken his top and shoes off before running into the water just to the east of the Palace Pier, was helped from the sea by one of three friends who was with him.

He was checked over on the beach by police and medical staff and taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital by ambulance.