Rescuers search for missing bather at Byron Bay.
Rescuers search for missing bather at Byron Bay. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Search fails to find swimmer

A WOMAN is believed missing after failing to return from a late-night swim in Byron Bay on Saturday night.

An air, ground and sea search was conducted at day-break yesterday at Main and Belongil beaches without success.

Witnesses who had gone to Byron Bay beach to watch the full lunar eclipse on Saturday night told police they saw a woman undress and walk into the surf between 10.30 and 11.30pm.

When the witnesses returned to the beach shortly after midnight they found the woman's black dress still on the beach.

Police patrols of the beach that night were unsuccessful in finding the woman.

Byron Bay Surf Life Saving Club duty officer Dan Andrew was called about 5.10am yesterday to initiate a water search for the woman.

"We were told that she may have been heavily intoxicated and vomit had been found on her clothes," Mr Andrew said.

"We searched near The Wreck and Belongil with both the rubber duckie and the jet ski."

The Westpac Surf Life Saver helicopter also searched the area.

Mr Andrew said the ocean was calm yesterday morning with perfect visibility but the search was called off shortly after 7am.

Nobody has officially reported the woman missing said Inspector Darren Steele from Byron/Tweed Local Area Command late yesterday.

"We will re-initiate the search if someone is reported missing but at this stage we don't know who she is," Insp Steele said.

Police yesterday visited local backpackers to see if anyone knew the missing woman's identity but no leads were found, Insp Steele said.

"We don't know who she might be, except that she was described as being in her early twenties," he said.

Byron Bay Surf Life Saving Club captain, Steve Martin spoke against swimming in the surf at night.

"It's absolutely not safe to go swimming on your own at night, even if you are a strong swimmer and especially if you have been drinking," he said.

"Nobody knows you are there and there is no rescue system in place at night."

Police are appealing to anyone with information about missing residents or visitors to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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