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Ophelia: Alarm as reckless selfie-takers put lives at risk in Northern Ireland


Young people near the shoreline at Warrenpoint

Young people near the shoreline at Warrenpoint

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Young people near the shoreline at Warrenpoint

Thrill-seekers who flouted safety advice to pose beside massive waves whipped up by Storm Ophelia and climbed buildings during the violent winds have been urged not to jeopardise their lives for a selfie.

The shocking behaviour took place in coastal towns across Northern Ireland yesterday, flying in the face of a barrage of safety warnings.

Despite the Met Office issuing an amber weather warning for winds of up to 80mph, an onlooker revealed that several people, including parents with young children, had risked their lives to get near the massive waves near the pontoon at the breakwater in Warrenpoint.

"It was going on all day - there were around 10 to 15 people coming down each hour," he said.

"It wasn't just young ones - there were guys in their 30s carrying on and people coming down to take selfies.

"There were even mums bringing their kids down.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing."

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Crotlieve SDLP councillor Michael Carr condemned the behaviour and said he was "really surprised that people are ignoring all the warnings".

"Despite the warnings, there have been people out swimming in the sea and windsurfing today," he said.

"It's irresponsible and reckless and people should heed the warnings as their lives could be put at risk.

"If people get into difficulty the emergency services have to attend, which prevents them from attending other incidents and also risks the lives of their crews. It's irresponsible to say the least."

Meanwhile, the PSNI also issued stern warnings over similar behaviour on the north coast and across mid and east Antrim.

Posting on social media, the PSNI North Coast Facebook page stated: "We have received reports of people attending the coast to 'experience' the current storm and take photos.

"We've also received reports of youths climbing buildings in Coleraine. This extremely dangerous, you are putting yourselves and the emergency services in danger needlessly."

In mid and east Antrim, the PSNI were forced to ask people taking photos at harbours and coastal areas to "please stay at home".

Reacting to the behaviour, leisure safety manager for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents David Walker said: "We understand the interest and fascination of a storm, but we ask that people don't jeopardise their safety for a selfie.

"Waters at the coast will be dangerously cold and very rough.

"In these conditions a person might, at best, survive a few minutes in the water."

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