Search for missing cruise passenger off French coast

Image caption The Balmoral was nearing the end of a three-week cruise in the Adriatic

A search has been carried out for a passenger believed to have fallen overboard from a cruise ship in the English Channel.

Brixham Coastguard in Devon received a call for assistance from authorities in France at about 0930 BST.

The missing man was on board the Fred Olsen liner Balmoral, which was due to return to Dover, Kent, on Tuesday after a 21-day Adriatic cruise.

The search was later called off and was not due to resume, coastguards said.

Ship searched

The Balmoral is the largest liner in the Fred Olson fleet and can carry 1,350 passengers.

A statement released by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines said the company was co-operating fully with both the French and British authorities.

The ship was in French waters about 45 miles (72km) south of The Lizard in Cornwall when the passenger was reported missing.

Members of the ship's crew carried out a thorough search of the ship without success.

A French coastguard fixed-wing plane and a French warship searched the English Channel.

A British coastguard helicopter from Portland, Dorset, and the Royal Navy frigate HMS Westminster were also involved in the search at sea.

HMS Westminster was also used as a helicopter re-fuelling point.

The search was called off after it got dark, coastguards said.

The Balmoral was continuing on its course and due back in Dover on Tuesday, they added.

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