The Netherlands Coastguard has called off a wide-scale search for an elderly man who fell overboard from a cruise ship after determining the chances of him surviving the 85-foot fall and choppy seas were nil.
The man, reportedly in his 80s, fell from a height of 26 metres (85 feet) from the German cruise ship MS Europa on 16th August.
The incident took place off the coast of Texel Island in the Dutch province of North Holland.
The cruise was travelling from the German city of Hamburg to the Belgian port of Antwerp when the man fell overboard and into the North Sea.
Dutch lifeboats from the nearby areas of Texel, Terschelling, and Vlieland were called to the scene.
Meanwhile, a rescue helicopter from the municipality of Den Helder was sent to the area along with Coast Guard aircraft and the vessel Guardian.
Other ships in the area at the time were also asked to keep an eye out for a drowning man wearing a blue shirt.
According to the news site HLN, there was initially confusion about the status of the missing person, but the search operation continued when a full search of the MS Europa confirmed the passenger could not be accounted for.
Coast Guard spokesman Ron Corstanje said the sea search was “terribly difficult” due to strong winds and waves of up to four metres (13 feet) in height.
Corstanje added: “Searching for someone at sea is difficult anyway, but especially with such waves.”
It is still unclear how the man fell over the cruise ship’s railing, however, the matter remains under investigation by the police.
Corstanje said the chance of him surviving the 85-foot fall was very unlikely, adding: “It is also impossible to keep your head above the water in a raging sea. The sea is not even that cold, but anyone treading water will have a hard time after 10 minutes.”
The Coast Guard called off the search at around 6pm after concluding that “the chances he survived and of us finding him are nil.”