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RNLI saved 500 people in 2015 with busiest crew based at Lough Erne

By Lesley Houston

Published 27/01/2016

Almost 500 people had to be rescued by lifeboat crews and lifeguards in Northern Ireland last year.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) said 497 people were plucked to safety from coastal waters, lakes and beaches in 451 call-outs.

The busiest lifeboat crew in Northern Ireland was on Lough Erne, where the team in Enniskillen answered 74 calls and rescued 89 people.

Bangor RNLI was the busiest single station, responding to 45 emergencies, saving 77 people.

Portrush RNLI launched 40 times, rescuing 25 people last year.

In 2015, lifeboats launched 269 times - eight more than the previous year - to come to the aid of 279 people.

The charity's lifeguards also responded to 182 incidents and helped 218 people on 10 beaches.

Crews dealt with minor incidents and high-stakes life-saving operations and searches, including the tragic case of missing kayaker Robert Hanna (47), from Carrickfergus, who disappeared near Islandmagee last September.

His body has not been recovered but his kayak was found off the Scottish coast.

Volunteers dealt with some unusual incidents, including the discovery of mortar bombs at Tyrella beach in August.

Teams were also on standby in Dungannon after Storm Frank brought floods at the end of December.

Last year marked the establishment of the RNLI's first permanent inland lifeboat station built at Carrybridge on Upper Lough Erne, along with trials for its new all-weather class lifeboat at Red Bay on the North Antrim coast.

Across the whole of Ireland, RNLI's lifeboat crews launched 1,098 times, bringing 1,244 people to safety, with the most active station being Howth RNLI in Dublin.

The RNLI's Gareth Morrison said: "Without all of our volunteers, fundraisers and education teams, our lifesaving service would not operate."

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