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River Tyne search after car plunge; Divers scour river for driver.

Byline: By SONIA SHARMA

A MASSIVE search was carried out after a car was spotted plunging into the River Tyne.

Police divers, traffic officers, a helicopter and a crew from Tynemouth RNLI helped in the search near the South Shields ferry landing yesterday.

Officers received a call from a member of the public at around 5.40am saying a car had apparently gone into the river near the TS Collingwood building and the North East Maritime Trust premises.

Police cordoned off the area while the search took place.

At around 11.30am, a P-registered red Ford Mondeo estate was pulled from the water using a crane. There was no-one inside the car.

A police spokesman said: "Searches in the area have now finished and officers are making inquiries to establish the owner of the vehicle. The car will be forensically examined."

Sgt Dean Walter, of South Shields police, added: "We don't know if the car was occupied when it went into the water.

"When the car was recovered, there was no-one inside. We are making inquiries to find the registered keeper."

A spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI said the crew reached the scene and started searching for any signs of casualties.

He added: "After some time, the only apparent sign that a vehicle had entered the water was a small stream of bubbles rising to the surface.

"Due to the high tide any vehicle would be already submerged by approximately four metres and the tide was continuing to rise.

"Tynemouth RNLI inshore lifeboat completed out a comprehensive search of the river around the scene of the incident while a police diving unit was alerted.

"It was decided that diving was the only method of locating the vehicle and all other search units were stood down, pending any further requests for assistance from Northumbria Police."

Bill Burton, a passer-by, told the Chronicle: "I don't know what happened, but I saw a lot of police officers in the area. They had cordoned off the site and were carrying out searches. There was a recovery vehicle and police divers.

"Then I saw a red car being pulled out of the water."

CAPTION(S):

EMPTY VEHICLE: A crane pulls the red Ford Mondeo from the river after police divers searched the area
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 31, 2007
Words:377
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