RNLI slams hoaxer behind rescue call

RNLI slams hoaxer behind rescue call

A senior RNLI member has criticised a hoax caller for forcing rescue teams to battle stormy conditions off the Co Down coast after they reported that a man had fallen into the sea.

Following a phone call, PSNI assisted the coastguard in relation to the incident close to Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle on Friday morning.Both Newcastle RNLI's inshore and all weather lifeboats were launched in rough weather at 9am following reports that a man had entered the sea after his dog and had got into difficulty.However the search was stood down at 10.30am after the coastguard declared it to be a hoax call.The incident took place approximately one mile north east of Newcastle lifeboat station in Co Down.Both lifeboats had battled bad weather and rough seas amid a warning for tidal surges to search for the man.Also on scene were members of the Kilkeel and Newcastle shore based coastguard teams and two helicopters from the Irish Coast Guard and the PSNI.Newcastle RNLI Deputy Launching Authority Captain Joseph McClelland described the conditions: "There was a heavy breaking surf in the area with a strong south westerly wind blowing force seven and two metre swells."The lifeboats were on scene within minutes and the volunteer lifeboat crew searched in very challenging weather."He continued: "We have since learned that the call for help was believed by the coastguard to have been a hoax and while we are relieved that no one is hurt we are disappointed that anyone would call out the emergency services on a day like today, knowing it to be a hoax."They could have put people's lives at risk and diverted necessary search and rescue assets away from other work."Two of our lifeboat crew are on the RNLI Flood Response Team and were due to travel up to Belfast to be ready to assist in the event of flooding but they stayed in Newcastle to assist in the search."

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