UPDATE: Coastguard believe Solent mayday call to be hoax

UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Lee-on-the-Solent helped with the search overnight. Picture: Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Lee-on-the-Solent helped with the search overnight. Picture: Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
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A MAYDAY call from a 70ft yacht in the Solent last night, which saw rescue teams out searching for hours, is believed to have been a hoax.

An extensive search was carried out in the early hours of this morning after the UK Coastguard received a mayday call from the vessel saying it was taking on water.

It was reported seven people were onboard with lifejackets but their pumps were not coping.

At 9.45pm, Hill Head Coastguard Rescue Team, Gosport And Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (Gafirs), Cowes RNLI Lifeboat, RNLI Calshot Lifeboat and the UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Lee-on-the-Solent carried out a search of the area.

But after three hours of looking in the Solent, River Medina and Southampton water, nothing was found and the search was called off.

Today, a spokeswoman from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said they believe the call was a hoax.

In a statement, she said: ‘We never put a price on human life. If we get a 999 call we treat it as real.

‘We encourage people to call us if they see someone in trouble, even if they’re not sure whether they are or not.

‘Calling 999 in these cases is always the right thing to do.

‘Search and Rescue resources will always be used rather than risk loss of life. If we think someone’s in danger or in trouble we will always search for them and rescue them if it’s needed.’

She added: ‘Making deliberate, false or misleading calls is against the law and we treat it very seriously.

‘We keep a record of these calls and hold those records as evidence for future prosecutions. Have no doubt, if you make a hoax call and we catch you, you will be prosecuted under the full force of the law.

‘Not only is it wasting the valuable time of our Coastguard officers, volunteers and resources such as the RNLI and our aircraft while searching; it also may be putting other lives at risk by diverting our resources away from genuine emergencies.’