COASTGUARD crews and a police helicopter launched a search for a missing man after reports of someone falling into the water from the old Severn Bridge on Monday afternoon (July 22).

It follows another incident at the weekend when 999 services from both sides of the Bristol Channel were called out to reports of a man in distress on the M48 bridge.

The man in the first incident had climbed up onto the suspension cables late on Saturday night (July 20).

SARA Beachley and Portishead lifeboat crews, working with Chepstow Coastguard and Avon and Somerset Police officers, attended the scene before he climbed down to safety just over an hour later.

Monday’s incident occurred shortly before 2pm. At 4pm, an Avon and Somerset Police police spokesman confirmed: “At 1.47pm today we received a report a man had entered the Severn Estuary from the M48 Severn Bridge.

“HM Coastguard and the police helicopter are currently carrying out a search of the area.”

They later said the search had been called off and the man had been officially declared a 'missing person' after emergency services were unable to find him. His family have been informed.

A SARA spokesperson said after the search: “Both Beachley lifeboats were launched, as was SARA Lifeboat 14 from Newport.

“They conducted a series of searches in conjunction with both the police and Coastguard helicopters, with NHS HART Team paramedics being on board the larger SARA Lifeboat 1.

“The three boats were stood down at 4.30pm, with nothing having been found, and our thoughts are with the family of the individual concerned.

?“We are grateful to the volunteers who responded to this third lifeboat call out in three days. One of today’s crew was on all three.

“A number of others had come almost directly from attending the funeral of our former long-standing treasurer and trustee Steve Cox, who died earlier this month aged 93.”

One lane of the westbound M48 carriageway near Aust was closed shortly after the report that someone had entered the water.

The previous incident occurred on the eastbound carriageway at around 11.20pm on Saturday night and emergency services were at the scene for more than an hour until the man climbed down from the cables at 12.40am.

Avon and Somerset Police said: "We were called to a concern for welfare on the M48 between J2-1 eastbound at about 11.20pm on Saturday night.

"At about 12.40pm the man climbed down and was detained and handed over to hospital/mental health services."

An RNLI spokesperson said: "Ground based resources were able to talk to the individual and they were safely removed from the bridge."

The latest sea search is the third this year involving incidents on the old Severn Bridge.

A man was seen falling from the crossing around 7pm on Saturday, June 1, but despite an extensive search, no one has been reported found.

That tragedy came the day before police formally identified a woman’s body found off the West Wales coast as a missing Hereford doctor.

Dr Uma Kulkarni’s car was found beside the old Severn Bridge, in early April, 130 miles away from where her body was recovered three weeks later.

A police spokesman said: “The body of a woman recovered from the water off St Anne’s Head on Wednesday, April 24, has been confirmed to be that of missing 42-year-old woman Uma Kulkarni.”