Flagstaff Hill rescue effort called off

A search for two people feared missing in waters off Flagstaff Hill has been called off.

Police say they have found no evidence to indicate a boat containing two men had capsized in waters off Flagstaff Hill yesterday evening.

Wollongong police Acting Inspector Dan Richardson said it appeared the incident may have been a case of mistaken identity, with whales spotted frolicking in the area at the time.

Witnesses reported seeing a boat with two people on board capsize about 500m offshore just after 6pm yesterday, sparking an extensive search operation by emergency services.

Police, Marine Rescue and Surf Life Saving crews rushed to search the waters east of Wollongong Lighthouse about 6pm, after several witnesses reported seeing a boat overturn and two people in distress, about 500m off the coast.

Surf Life Saving IRB crews from Wollongong City and North Wollongong clubs searched the area for an hour, before being called in around 7pm.

Several other crews, including a rescue helicopter, continued to search through the night, despite an initial sweep of waters locating nothing more than a frolicking pair of whales.

Several witnesses were still on scene around 7.45pm, helping direct water police to the area the boat went down.

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