01/07/2005

Coastguard rescue four from toy dinghies near Ilfracombe

Four people have been rescued from inflatable toy dinghies by the Coastguard.

The four were stranded at the foot of cliffs at Hele Bay near Ilfracombe on Thursday.

Swansea Coastguard received an emergency call at around 8.00pm from a member of the public reporting that two small dinghies appeared to be in danger near cliffs in the Hele Bay area.

A Coastguard Rescue Team was dispatched to the scene and the Ilfracombe inshore lifeboat was launched. However, when the Coastguard arrived they discovered that one of the dinghies containing two people had been washed ashore at the foot of cliffs. The second also containing two people had been swept towards the inaccessible Haggington beach.

The inshore lifeboat put one of its crew ashore to assist the two teenagers in the first dinghy, a boy and a girl, who had apparently been drinking. While they did not require medical assistance, they were wet and cold.

The inshore lifeboat later reported that two adults from the second dinghy were on Haggington Beach, but due to a heavy swell they could not approach from seaward.

A specialist Coastguard Rescue Team from Morthoe with full cliff rescue gear assisted in bringing all four up the cliff face. Paramedics and police stood by at the scene.

Graham Warlow, Watch Officer at Swansea Coastguard said: "When they were lifted to the top of the cliff it was found they had all been heavily drinking. They were just in t-shirts and shorts and had no buoyancy aids. If this sharp eyed member of the public had not spotted them then they may have been swept away in the mounting gloom and fading light to whatever fate may have been in store for them in the cold and lonely sea.

"There is a very simple message from the Coastguard this summer - don't drink and drown."

All four were reported to be holidaymakers staying at a nearby caravan site.

(SP/GB)

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