Man missing as high seas wreck party on beach

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The Independent Online

A man who went missing after an all-night party on a Cornish beach was presumed drowned yesterday as horrendous weather conditions hampered rescue attempts.

A man who went missing after an all-night party on a Cornish beach was presumed drowned yesterday as horrendous weather conditions hampered rescue attempts.

Ten of the man's friends, who were trapped with him in a cave beneath 150ft cliffs at Barrowfields, north of the resort of Newquay, were rescued after another man climbed the cliffs in bare feet to telephone for help.

The group had set off for the cave on Saturday night. As the weather grew worse, they tried to move above the water line, but one, aged 27, was swept out to sea from the mouth of the cave at about 8am yesterday.

Coastguard teams called in from Newquay and St Merryn abseiled down the cliffs to rescue the group, while a Royal Navy helicopter joined the search for the missing man.

Police officers, lifeboats, a coastguard helicopter and the Falmouth coastguard were also involved. Martin Burt, the honorary secretary of Newquay coastguard, said: "This chap went out too close to the sea, and got washed out. He was seen tumbling around in the surf by his friends and then he disappeared. No one could have lived for long in that sea.

"Normally, when we don't find someone after the first few hours, they tend to come up around nine days later."

Mr Burt believed some of the group had been staying in a hostel in Newquay. Steve Varley, the operations manager of the Falmouth coastguard, said: "We think they were party revellers who had wandered into the cave."

Another coastguard spokesman said the man who had scaled the cliffs to find help had done well. "The weather was pretty terrible plus it was a pretty impressive climb that the man managed to do," he said. "The cave wasn't in danger of being submerged but getting the group to safety from the cave was still a problem because the bay had become cut off and it was not possible to escape on foot."

Those who were rescued, five men and five women, were treated at the scene.

Worsening weather forced the coastguard to scale down the search for the missing man, as waves reached 15ft and winds blew at gale force eight. A spokeswoman for the Royal Naval Air Station at Culdrose in west Cornwall described the weather conditions as "horrendous".

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