Fishing boat missing in English Channel

The vessel believed to be missing off Dungeness Image copyright
Image caption Lifeboats and helicopters are searching for the vessel, the Dutch coastguard said

Two lifeboats and a coastguard rescue helicopter are searching the English Channel for a fishing boat reported missing in the Strait of Dover.

The Belgian-registered vessel is known to have four people on board, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said.

The Dover and Dungeness lifeboats and helicopter were searching for the boat about 10 miles off the Kent coast.

A French search and rescue helicopter joined the mission, in conditions described as "very challenging".

The owner of the boat said he had not had contact with the crew "since lunchtime".

A coastguard spokesman said: "The coastguard has notified other vessels in the surrounding area to remain vigilant and contact them if they locate anything.

"The weather conditions on scene are very challenging, with rough seas and gale force winds."

The Dutch coastguard said the Belgian fishing boat had a Dutch skipper. The three crew members are Dutch, Portuguese and Belgian, a spokesman said.

Several fishing boats are also searching and more vessels are on their way from the French port of Boulogne, the Dutch coastguard said.

Tim Ash from the RNLI said the Dungeness lifeboat was launched just after 17:00 GMT and the Dover lifeboat joined the search about two hours later.

He said the two lifeboats were searching about eight miles apart in the English Channel.

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