Police in Essex have confirmed that a huge search operation is underway after Canvey Island was reported missing at around 9pm on Thursday evening.

A police helicopter is currently assisting with the search as it was already flying over the area at the time.

Jemima Charfleets lives in South Benfleet, and she described her shock at looking out of her window only to see that the island had gone.

She said: ‘Just before I go to bed every evening, I make sure to look out of my kitchen window and say a prayer for all of the people who live on the island, but tonight I went to the window and noticed that there was nothing there.’

‘I hope that they find it soon – it’s the only Morrisons in the area that has a petrol station.’

Dr Horace Harris of the US Geological Institute told our Chief Reporter that satellite images from Thursday evening could provide some clues.

He said: ‘The seismic logs show a massive land event at 9.03pm, and this coincides with reports to the police of an unauthorised drag race taking place on Roscommon Way.’

‘My theory is that two particularly large and wanky exhaust pipes caused a vibration significant enough to make Canvey break away from its moorings and head out into the North Sea Estuary.’

Late reports this evening confirm that Dr Harris’ data may be correct, and a number of Canvey residents have been in touch to say that their island is currently floating past Zeebrugge.

This is the second time in 2017 that a South Essex town has been reported missing after Leigh On Sea temporarily disappeared up its own arsehole between the 10th and 17th of June.