THE BODY of a 78-year-old Tiverton man was covered from the River Exe by a RMB Chivenor helicopter crew last night, Tuesday. The alarm was raised by a relative of the man around 8.45pm after he failed to return home from walking his dog.

Police, fire and a crew from Exmoor Search and Rescue Team attended the scene before requesting the assistance of a helicopter crew from Branstaple-based RMB Chivenor to carry out a search.

The team were mobilised from the base on board a Sea King helicopter shortly after 11pm and a crew member spotted the body in the middle of the river using night-vision goggles around an hour later.

Over-hanging trees made the rescue attempt particularly hazardous, so a crew member was lowered onto the bank to supervise while a winchman was deployed from the helicopter to recover the body.

No formal identification has yet taken place, although the body is thought to be that of the missing man.

A police spokesman confirmed the death is being treated as ‘unexplained’.

The man’s next of kin and the coroner have been informed and the dog was found safe and well nearby and returned to a family member.