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400 lives saved in Coast Guard rescues during 2016

More than 400 lives were saved during sea rescues this year, the Coast Guard has said.

The rescue missions were among 2,500 incidents co-ordinated from the agency's main bases at Dublin, Malin, Co Donegal, and Valentia, Co Kerry.

At the end of 2016, the Coast Guard also warned of an increase in kayaking and surfing-related incidents.

It was called out to 45 kayaking and surfing incidents during the year.

The year also saw tragedy strike the rescue service, with the loss of volunteer Caitriona Lucas, who died during a search operation off Kilkee, Co Clare, in September.

She was the first volunteer member to lose her life on operational service.

The Coast Guard said the death had "cast a dark shadow" over all its activities.

Also during the year, the Coast Guard:

:: Transferred nine patients to the UK for emergency procedures mainly relating to organ transplant

:: Conducted 20 long-range offshore missions involving casualty evacuations more 100 miles from land

:: Flew on 23 suspected pollution investigation missions arising from satellite-based reports

:: Participated in 86 mountain rescue missions

In relation to drowning, the Coast Guard said men remained the most likely victims, with preliminary reports showing that well over half of people needing rescue were not wearing lifejackets.

Eugene Clonan, acting Coast Guard director, thanked all staff and volunteers involved in missions during 2016.

"Sadly, at this time we remember the family of Caitriona Lucas and recall Caitriona as a person who so embodied the volunteer ethos," he added.

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