Belfast Telegraph

Busy year sees heroic lifeboat crews rescue 325 people

By Rebecca Black

Lough Erne was the busiest spot for Northern Ireland's lifeboats last year, it has emerged.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) reported aiding 50 people at the popular visitor destination during 2017.

In total, RNLI lifeguards across the north coast and in Co Down dealt with 193 incidents on their 11 beaches, and came to the assistance of 210 people. The charity's volunteer crews, meanwhile, launched 283 times from its 10 lifeboat stations, bringing 325 people to safety.

The RNLI's busiest station was Carrybridge, on Upper Lough Erne.

It saw 41 launches, with 50 people assisted.

Donaghadee lifeboat launched 31 times and assisted 46 people in difficulties.

Portaferry RNLI launched 27 times, rescuing 44 people during the operations.

At Bangor there were 40 launches and 39 people aided.

The figures were released as the RNLI issued a plea ahead of the school holidays for the public to respect the water and its potential dangers.

The RNLI says those visiting the coast or lakelands this Easter should be mindful sea and lough water temperatures remain very cold.

The charity's lifeguards return to staff five of the region's beaches on Good Friday.

Mike Grocott, RNLI area lifesaving manager, said: "RNLI lifesavers across Northern Ireland are dedicated to providing a professional rescue service to those who need it, and last year, together, our lifeboat crews and lifeguards responded to 476 calls for help. Despite their commitment, tragically in Ireland and the UK at least one person dies from drowning each day. We believe that one drowning is one too many and we would encourage people to think ahead and to take the necessary precautions to keep them and their family safe."

The RNLI says if you see someone in trouble, alert the lifeguards or call 999 (or 112) and ask for the Coastguard.

To find out how you can stay safe while enjoying your water activity, visit RespectTheWater.com

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