Divers in rescue drama off Rathlin
Two divers were airlifted to safety yesterday afternoon during a major rescue operation off the north Antrim coast.
The men, believed to be in their 40s, were diving in an area known as the Rathlin Wall when they lost contact with their boatman.
A rescue helicopter was tasked to the search shortly after 4pm and the Portrush lifeboat was launched.
The men — members of Newry and Mourne Dive Club — were found two hours later on Rathlin Island having swum over a mile to safety.
They were later taken to Ballycastle by helicopter.
Coastguard Gordon Munro said he was satisfied with the way the rescue effort went.
“When the boatman failed to contact the two men he put in a mayday to the Coastguard,” he said.
“A rescue helicopter from Sligo, the Portrush lifeboat and Coastguard teams from Ballycastle and Rathlin were dispatched immediately.
“The divers were located ashore by the north west corner of the island by a coastguard team.”
Neither man was hurt and no medical attention was needed.
The region in which they were diving boasts several shipwrecks often visited by divers.
Mr Munro said the duo were fortunate to avoid the clutches of the area’s notorious tides which could have carried them further out to sea.
“We could still be searching for them now if they had been swept out,” he said.
“The search came to an end very well.”
Fellow coastguard Hugh Feron added: “They’re lucky to be found and picked up. If it had have been dark, it could have been a different story.”