Updated 3.40pm

A dead man’s body was found off Malta’s western coast early on Sunday morning, following an Armed Forces of Malta helicopter search that began on Saturday.

The body is believed to be that of a man who ran into trouble while swimming in the Miġra l-Ferħa area of Rabat.

He was later identified as a 34-year-old American who resides in the Netherlands. 

He decided to take a dip on Saturday while visiting the spot with another man, but soon found himself struggling in the water.

His companion, a 38-year-old man from Portugal who lives in Sliema, jumped into the sea to try and rescue him, but was unable to do so and had to swim north to Ġnejna Bay to make it back to shore. 

Authorities immediately began searching for the missing man but were unable to locate him by the time darkness fell on Saturday.

The search resumed early on Sunday morning and an AFM spokeswoman confirmed that a helicopter crew had spotted a body floating in the area. In a statement, the police said the body was found at around 9am.

The body will be brought to Cirkewwa and then taken away by hearse, the spokeswoman said.

Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras is leading an inquiry into the death. 

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