A SURVIVAL expert has said it would be a miracle if the two men survived after jumping into cold sea water near Harwich.

A pair of Albanian nationals fleeing from deportation lept from the Stena Britannica as it left Harwich at around 9.45am on Wednesday.

Brett Day, a former RAF Search and Rescue winch man, said the men would have had between four and ten minutes at most to survive.

The senior instructor at Wildcrafts bushcraft and survival school in Essex said: "Once your body temperature, normally 36 to 37 degrees, reaches 27 to 30 degrees your muscles start to cramp and tense up.

“That can stop you swimming or even staying afloat, it’s total shutdown and you’re looking at severe hypothermia.

“They will be recovering bodies now unless it’s a miracle.”