A THREE-HOUR search for a woman believed to have fallen from a ferry was called off last night after no-one was reported missing.

The major air and sea search was launched last night, at 6.40pm, after a woman was spotted in distress on the car-deck of a Red Funnel Ferry.

When the passenger took a second look, the woman was gone and it was feared she had gone overboard, as the Red Eagle approached Cowes Harbour.

The Solent Coastguard, police and independent lifeboats, including Calshot's two RNLI lifeboats, were all dispatched within minutes for the painstaking search of the waters surrounding Cowes but nothing was found.

The search was called-off at 9.30pm. It was the longest time the RNLI lifeboat had spent on a shout this year.

Although the number of foot-passengers was down by one on arrival at Cowes, police have not received any reports of a missing person.

A spokesperson from the coastguard said: "There s no evidence of anything untoward and it is not unusual for the number of foot-passengers to be down by one. It is very possible that this woman could have been travelling in a vehicle and those numbers are not recorded.

"No-one actually saw her go overboard but we have to search because there is the assumption that she could have."