A BODY has been found after a fully-clothed man was seen walking into the sea.

A major search was launched after an angler who saw the man near Marsden Grotto, South Tyneside, raised the alarm shortly before 11pm on Wednesday.

The Humber Coastguard co-ordinated the search by the Tynemouth RNLI, helicopters from Northumbria Police and RAF Boulmer and local volunteers on land.

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After three hours the search was called off, with the intention of starting again this morning.

At 5.35am Northumbria Police officers discovered a body 600m from where the man was seen to enter the water.

Formal identification has yet to take place, but police believe this was the same man the angler spotted.

Adrian Don, spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station, said: "Both of our lifeboats were paged to launch just before 11pm last night after a man was seen by an angler to walk into the sea at Marsden.

"Our lifeboats with a total of 12 volunteer crew members carried out a structured search of the sea in the area where he was seen, supported by the RAF and police helicopters and the shore-based rescue teams, all coordinated by the watch officers at Humber Coastguard.

"After nearly three hours of searching every possible avenue had been exhausted and the search was called off, with the intention of possibly restarting in daylight.

"Unfortunately a body was found on the beach and police believe that this is the same person who we were searching for.

"Our thoughts and sympathies lie with his friends and family at what will be a very difficult time for them."

The coastguard said conditions in the area were good, with light winds and clear visibility last night.