INVESTIGATIONS have been launched after two men being deported from the UK jumped off a ferry a mile from Harwich.
Essex Police has launched a missing persons investigation following the men’s disappearance.
Their Dutch counterparts, the Royal Dutch Police, are thought to have launched an investigation into human smuggling and are currently questioning the 11 other people who were also being deported.
A dramatic air and sea rescue search was launched on Wednesday after the two Albanian men jumped overboard from the Stena Line Britannica, which had just left Harwich International Port at 9am.
The pair had been denied access to the UK by the UK Border Force Agency and were being sent back to Holland.
RNLI crews from Harwich, the Walton RNLI lifeboat, two coastguard rescue teams, a rescue helicopter from RAF Wattisham and police helicopter scoured the waters shortly after 10am.
But at 1.30pm, three hours after the search began, emergency services were told to stand down.
The two men are still missing.
They were part of a group of 13 men on board being deported after they were refused entry to the UK by the Border Agency.
A spokesman for Essex Police said: “Following a search for two people, who were reported to have jumped from a ferry into the sea between Harwich and Felixstowe, Essex Police is now leading a missing persons investigation."