Rescue operation at Strangford Lough

Published Monday, 11 August 2014
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More than 200 people have safely returned to shore during a rescue operation at Strangford Lough after 87 dinghies at a sailing event were hit by stormy weather on Monday afternoon.

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The vessels were hit by bad weather near Killyleagh in Co Down, where the nearby East Down Yacht Club is hosting the GP 14 World Championships this week.

The Belfast Coastguard received a report just before 2pm that some of the boats had capsized, while others were struggling to cope in the strong winds and squally showers.

The Bangor and Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Teams, the Portaferry and Newcastle RNLI lifeboats, the Irish Coast Guard helicopter along with the helicopter from RAF Valley were sent to the scene,

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service set up tents to treat people at the scene.

Ten people were injured, with some of them showing signs of hypothermia. One person is understood to have suffered a head injury.

Liam Colquhoun, Watch Manager at Belfast Coastguard, said: "We have now been told by our rescue units on scene that everyone has safely returned to shore and that no one is missing.

"We believe 20 people ended up in the water after their boats capsized this afternoon, 10 of them requiring medical attention.

"The weather conditions on scene have been pretty treacherous, with winds gusting up to 60mph. We're very thankful that everyone has now safely returned."

The South Eastern Trust stood down a major incident at the Ulster Hospital around two hours later.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Sally in Belfast wrote (164 days ago):
Lucylou••••• it wasn't a huge overreaction but it was played up a bit, I was there, but, yes the main thing is that no one was hurt :)
lucylou in belfast wrote (172 days ago):
Paul Baxtet-----I don't think those who had capsized in those conditions will be calling it an 'over reaction'. I don't know why there would be repercussions for the person who made the decision to declare a major incident, as it may well have saved lives or serious injury for those involved. There's no point in putting procedures in place to be prepared to cope with a major incident and not being prepared to use all that training when circumstances dictate the need. The only thing that matters is that people were kept safe with no deaths or serious injury. Apportioning blame after the event for decisions made in emergency conditions and talking about 'over reaction' is just crass.
Larry in Belfast wrote (172 days ago):
I was in the 'Ulster' when the alert happened, and the preparation was swift and effective with patients and beds being moved 'out of the road' to allow for 'casualties'. The problem was the delays for people waiting to be discharged as the ambulances were all send to Killyleagh. The hospital staff are to be commended, but the people of reported the incident quite obviously 'over reacted' to the seriousness of the injuries etc. But, all is well that ends well, so well done to the Ulster men and women.
Grant McCullough in Holywood wrote (172 days ago):
Today was the first day of the event with race 1 starting at 12.00 in wind speeds of 17 knots. 88 boats were "Tallied Out" (this is a safety system that ensures the event organisers know which boats are on the water and who is in each boat). Towards the finish of the first race the Race Officer decided that due to worsening weather conditions the second race of the day would be cancelled. The signal for race cancellation was displayed and the safety boat crews were informed that racing for the day was finished. The fleet started to head ashore when a strong squall of 31 knots passed over the race area. The effect of this was that some of the boats capsized - this is not an unusual situation and crews are trained on how to right their boat. Unfortunately a further stronger squall registering 37 knots followed the first, capsizing a further number of the fleet. Apparent media reports of 80 boats being capsized would be incorrect as there would have been no more than 10-12 boats capsized at any one time. The capsizes where being successfully handled by the competitors and the team of 13 safety boats that had been accompanying the racing fleet. The Race Officer then made the correct decision, as a precaution, to contact the Coastguard should the weather conditions worsen, and in fact the weather conditions improved after 15 minutes.
Jim in Carrickfergus wrote (172 days ago):
Did they not have the amount of safety boats on the water to cover this amount of GPs?? At the end of the day no loss of life thats the main thing
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