Belfast Telegraph

Weather bomb: Two lucky to be alive after being engulfed by waves at Portstewart Strand

By Joanne Fleming and Harriet Crawford

Two people were swept away by the huge waves that battered Northern Ireland's coastline - and luckily survived the terrifying ordeal.

Portstewart Strand's two-mile beach is usually a stretch of golden sand, but yesterday the pounding surf made it a no-go zone for everyone.

Despite danger warnings from National Trust officials, a male jogger and a female dog-walker were swept up by huge surges.

The man was carried onto rocks and the woman tossed around by the pounding waves before both managed to escape the fierce seas.

Portstewart site manager Toby Edwards said the two were very fortunate to survive.

"They were so lucky that they actually got to their feet and held on between the waves and made it away," he said.

"One person had come down walking their dog, completely oblivious. We were all waving, trying to send them back, and at one point they went after their phone, which they had dropped.

"They managed to get hold of some of the nearby rocks and held on long enough for the water to wash away, allowing them to scramble out."

The resort saw some of the worst of the weather, with a play park on the coast submerged on Wednesday morning and beach cafe Harry's Shack threatened by huge tidal surges coming right up to its front door.

"It is simply not safe to come near us, do not even attempt it," the cafe's Facebook page urged. It later reported: "Literally watched some mad person ignore warnings, go onto beach and walk towards rocks... and get swept away by huge wave. Madness. He is so lucky."

Portstewart Strand National Trust also tweeted: "We cannot stress this enough, please stay away from the beach."

Temperatures are set to drop to as low as minus one this evening as the cyclogenisis, or deep low pressure system - known colloquially as a weather bomb - is replaced by a new weather system.

A Met Office 'amber' warning remained in place until 6pm yesterday, turning into a 'yellow' warning for wind today.

Live Blog Weatherbomb
 

The strongest winds are expected to ease this morning but flooding is still possible on parts of the north coast.

All of Stena Line's Belfast to Cairnryan ferry services were cancelled yesterday.

P&O said it would make a decision on each sailing as it was due but "passengers with non-essential travel are asked to rearrange" their plans.

NIE, warning of possible damage to the electricity network, has emergency teams on standby. The customer helpline number is 03457 643 643.

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