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Baby missing after fall from ferry

A baby is missing after falling from a ferry in Northern Ireland.

A woman and the child plunged from the Stena Line boat as it made its way into Belfast port from Cairnryan on Scotland's western coast.

A major air and sea search has been launched.

The woman was rescued and taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for treatment, where she is stable. She was recovered by a pilot boat 15 minutes after the alarm was raised.

The incident happened in Belfast Lough close to Holywood, Co Down, at around 6.10pm on Wednesday on a busy shipping route for passengers and freight between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

John McPoland, a spokesman for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, said two ambulance crews treated her. "She had been in the water for a while so you can understand that with the coldness of the water she would have been hypothermic," he said.

Agencies, including the police helicopter, the Irish Coastguard and the RNLI are involved in the search for the baby. Police Service of Northern Ireland officers boarded the ferry, which is docked in Belfast Port.

A PSNI spokesman said: "It was reported that two people fell into the water from a ferry. One person was rescued and was taken to hospital for treatment for suspected hypothermia. The search operation is ongoing for the second person, this is believed to be a young child."

All Stena Line sailings to and from Belfast have been cancelled and Belfast Port has been closed.

Ian Murdoch, Belfast Coastguard watch manager, said: "We have been searching for the second missing person for over two hours but sadly we have not found any sign of them so far."

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