A WOMAN has been arrested on suspicion of wasting police time over claims a baby had fallen overboard a Stena ferry.
A full-scale air, sea and land search was launched on Wednesday in a doubtful bid to safely recover the alleged newborn baby, who reportedly went overboard with its mother just after 6pm during a routine Stena sailing from Cairnryan.
The child, believed to have been just nine days old, was said to have fallen from the large Stena Superfast VII as the boat approached Belfast Lough. Its mother was rescued safely.
A police spokesperson said: “Following an extensive search operation involving several agencies and volunteers and after enquiries with the 37 year old woman and her family, police now understand the report of a baby going into the water was incorrect. We do not believe there was a baby in the woman’s care on the ferry.”
Following the incident on Wednesday, a call for help was immediately issued after apparent witness reports claimed the woman, last seen standing on the deck, went over into the busy passenger and freight shipping route, leaving behind an empty pram on deck.
Fifteen minutes later the mother was recovered by a pilot boat. She was taken to Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital where she was reported to be stable but suffering from hypothermia.
But the search for the infant went on into Wednesday night before being called off as darkness engulfed the waters.
It was resumed at 6am on Thursday in poor conditions.
Stena were unable to comment but said their sailings were back on schedule after being postponed overnight.
Bangor and Donaghadee RNLI lifeboat, an Irish Rescue helicopter, police helicopter, fast rescue craft from two ferries, tugs and a pilot boat are all engaged in the search in the vicinity of Victoria Channel, co-ordinated by Belfast Coastguard.
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