Members of the public placed their own lives in danger as they made desperate attempts to save a man swept into the sea while fishing in Portrush on Saturday.
The man, reported to be a Polish national, was last night feared dead after air, sea and land search teams were stood down because of stormy weather.
The 38-year-old was fishing when he got into trouble at Ramore Head on Saturday.
He is thought to have been swept off the rocks where he was fishing and dragged into the sea by a wave at around 4.25pm.
Police said that several members of the public had gone to the area to help in the search.
A PSNI spokeswoman said: “Some of these people have placed themselves in significant danger by entering the water or attempting to search independently of police and coastguard crews.
“Police understand that people want to help, however we would ask that for their own safety members of the public allow only properly trained and equipped police and coastguard personnel to conduct the search.
“Deteriorating weather and sea conditions mean that the search environment is extremely challenging and police do not want to see anyone put at risk.
“Any properly trained and equipped volunteers who have already attended should make contact with police at the scene prior to attempting any kind of search activity themselves.”
PSNI officers and Coastguard teams ended the search operation for the day at lunch time yesterday, saying that storm force winds had made conditions too dangerous for their crews to continue searching the water.
Police said that conditions “will be continuously reviewed with a view to recommencing the search as soon as it is safe and practical to do so”.
Meanwhile, a 45-year-old man was rescued from the sea by a Coastguard helicopter in Portstewart on Saturday, just two hours after the Portrush incident.
The man went into the sea at the harbour around 6.15pm. He was taken to hospital in a critical condition.
The Causeway Hospital in Coleraine, where he is being treated, last night said that his condition remains critical.
Chris Little from Coleraine Coastguard said that being anywhere near rocks in heavy seas was very dangerous.
He said: “We would always recommend that anyone fishing from rocks should wear a lifejacket.”
Mr Little said the weather had got worse as they searched for the man at Ramore Head.
He said that “gusts of wind up to storm force where it is almost impossible for our teams even to stand on rocks” had severely hampered the rescue operation before it was called off.