A man’s body was recovered from the sea at Seaburn beach in Sunderland this afternoon.
The drama unfolded shortly after 2pm, when clothes were spotted on the beach and a man was seen in the sea.
A spokesman for HM Coastguard said: “We responded to a report from lifeguards of clothing being found on the beach, as a result of which a search of the water was carried out.
“A male adult was recovered from the sea using the lifeguard’s jet ski.”
An eyewitness, who did not wish to be named, saw the man’s body being taken away by a helicopter.
The 43–year–old said: “I just saw the ambulances and then the helicopter at about 2.30pm . It looked like a lifeguard on a jet ski went into the water to get him. Then he was taken away in the helicopter.
Paramedics worked on the man who was pulled from the water, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Great North Air Ambulance helicopter landed on the beach, but was not needed.
A spokesman said: “At 2.20pm today we were called to Seaburn beach, near Sunderland, where a man had been pulled from the water by an RNLI team.
“Despite resuscitation attempts being made by the emergency services present, the man was sadly pronounced dead on scene.”
Police are trying to establish how the man came to be in the water, and appealed for witnesses.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact officers on 101 ext 69191.