VIDEO: Police now treating overturned boat incident as search and recovery operation

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The search continues for two men missing after their boat capsized off the coast of East Wemyss, while the local community mourns a third man who died after being rescued from the scene.

The Coastguard received two calls just before 5pm yesterday (Monday) evening from members of the public concerned about the safety of three men who have been named as Birrell Stewart (30), David Stead (47) and Jason Buchan (35).

Search continues for missing East Wemyss men after their boat capsized on Monday night (Aug 10) Pictures by George McLuskie

Search continues for missing East Wemyss men after their boat capsized on Monday night (Aug 10) Pictures by George McLuskie

A full-scale search was launched by the UK Coastguard which included a rescue helicopter based at RAF Boulmer, RNLI lifeboats from Kinghorn and Anstruther, Coastguard rescue teams from Kinghorn, St Andrews and Leven and police officers.

Mr Stewart was recovered from the water and was immediately taken to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee by helicopter.

He died a short time later around 7pm. A report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.

The families of all three men have asked for privacy at this time.

Birrell Stewart (30) who died after the boat he was in overturned off the coast of East Wemyss on Monday, August 10.

Birrell Stewart (30) who died after the boat he was in overturned off the coast of East Wemyss on Monday, August 10.

In a briefing to the media earlier today (Tuesday) Chief Inspector Adrian Annadale said the search is on-going for the missing men, however it has been confirmed that this has now been scaled back to a search and recovery enquiry.

In a statement, the chief inspector said: “We are continuing to search the coast for both Jason Buchan and David Stead and our coordinated search activity will continue in the forthcoming days.

“Sadly, given the time that has passed since the incident was reported, we have now moved to a search and recovery operation.”

Chief Inspector Annandale could not confirm if the men had been wearing lifejackets while out at sea, and said that would form part of the on-going investigation.

Jason Buchan

Jason Buchan

He added: “Obviously we want to thank the local community for their support and if people do see anything that they think we should know about they should call the police non-emergency number 101.”

As part of the search for the missing men, Coastguard crews from St Andrews and Leven were again searching a large expanse of the Firth of Forth off the coast of East Wemyss, and right along to Kincraig Point.

The chief inspector confirmed the search was confined to the Fife shores, with no activity on the other side of the coast, but did not comment on specific search areas.

Robbie Robertson, coastguard area commander, said although conditions had been good earlier on in the day, a change occurred in the afternoon which could have potentially overturned the boat, believed to be an aluminum-hulled vessel, around 10 feet long.

David Stead

David Stead

He said: “Conditions have been quite reasonable but a squall came through and a bit of a wind came through with the rain so that whipped up the sea quite quickly.”

He believed that Mr Stewart could have been in the water for up to two hours before he was rescued, but said a person could potentially survive in the water for up to 20 hours.

Mr Robertson confirmed that while the boat was discovered overturned there was no other obvious damage, and while the search is on-going, nothing which could be attributed to the missing men has yet been found.

He added that around 30 to 40 members of the local community had been involved in the search from the beginning, and said: “This will be felt very heavily within the coastal community and it is always sad and tragic when something like this happens.”

Chief Inspector Adrian Annandale

Chief Inspector Adrian Annandale

A police cordon is in place at East Wemyss Angling Club

A police cordon is in place at East Wemyss Angling Club

Robbie Robertson from HM Coastguard speaks to local media to update the status of the search for the missing persons. Picture by Steve Brown.

Robbie Robertson from HM Coastguard speaks to local media to update the status of the search for the missing persons. Picture by Steve Brown.