TWO men had to be rescued from the River Tees today after their boat capsized as they responded to an emergency call.

RNLI crews from Redcar and Hartlepool, Coastguard teams and a police helicopter were searching the river at Haverton Hill, Stockton, at 1.30pm after a member of the public called police to say they had seen a distressed person close to the bank.

While the search was ongoing, a PD Ports craft, part of the response to the emergency call, capsized near the Transporter Bridge, throwing the two occupants into the river.

The two men, believed to be PD Ports employees, were pulled out of the water by other craft involved in the search, and brought ashore.

It is understood they were cold but otherwise unharmed.

The missing person was not found, and the search was scaled down after two hours.

Dave Cocks, from Redcar RNLI said: "The first information we received was that a person was believed to have fallen into the River Tees, upstream of the Tees Transporter Bridge.

"The two RNLI lifeboats began a coordinated search between Billingham Reach and Normanby Wharf.

"As the high tide passed, the search area was extended downstream towards Tees Dock.

"It was while the two lifeboats were searching that part of the river that the PD Ports boat capsized near the Transporter Bridge.

"The lifeboats were immediately diverted back to the bridge. When they arrived, they found that both the men from the capsized craft had been rescued by the Tees pilot cutter Coatham and the Seaton, a PD Ports workboat.

"The man from the Coatham was transferred to the Redcar lifeboat and landed ashore.

"He was wet and cold, but otherwise he was unharmed.

"The lifeboats then rejoined the search for the initial person, with both lifeboats searching in the direction of the falling tide, towards the mouth of the Tees.

"The search was called off when the lifeboats reached to estuary without finding anyone.

"At this point in time there is nothing to say that this wasn't a genuine call, and we understand further enquiries are being made."

Alex Harrison, Coastguard watch officer, said: "The men were quickly recovered due to search units being close by.

"However, if the men had not been wearing the correct safety gear including lifejackets and the search units been further away, the outcome of this incident could have been very different."