A major search for a yacht which was believed to have sunk off the Irish coast was called off today after rescue teams failed to find any evidence of an accident.
A lifeboat, three shoreline coastguard teams and a Royal Navy helicopter from Scotland were all scrambled as the rescue bid got under way in Strangford Lough, off Co Down.
But a spokesman for the Northern Ireland coastguard later said the search had been stood down after a comprehensive sweep of the area.
“No-one has been reported missing, no vessels have been reported overdue and there are no reports of anyone in difficulties,” he said.
“The area has been comprehensively searched from the air, sea and shore and nothing has been found.”
He added that the search would not be started again unless there was a report of someone missing or in trouble.
Earlier a spokesman said that the skipper of a yacht called the Paparoa raised the alarm.
“He informed us he heard a call on VHF radio saying: ‘Coastguard, coastguard we are sinking, we need help,” the spokesman said.
“He said the caller seemed genuine.”
A lifeboat from Portaferry in Co Down was immediately sent following the report just after 8pm last night.
Three coastguard teams from Bangor, Portaferry and Whiterock also began combing a stretch of the Ards Peninsula for any sign of a ship in distress.
A search and rescue helicopter with heat-seeking equipment and night vision guidelines was also flown over from Prestwick to join the hunt.