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If what you search is only part of the strings in the searched cells, perhaps you have enable the option:
Menu/Tools/Options/LibreOffice calc/Calculate - Search criteria = and <> must apply to whole cells.
if disable works for me.
But with this option disable there it's a bug that makes calc slow searching string lists, specially visible with large ranges for search.
If this is the case you can use regular expressions with the option enable.
Only be aware there are no characters to search that are part of regular expressions.