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Two missing paddleboarders found clinging to lobster pot by fisherman

The two women, aged 17 and 23, were found alive after a major search operation in Co Galway.

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The pair were picked up by a Coast Guard helicopter (Chris Radburn/PA)

The pair were picked up by a Coast Guard helicopter (Chris Radburn/PA)

The pair were picked up by a Coast Guard helicopter (Chris Radburn/PA)

Two young women reported missing off the coast of Co Galway have been found alive after they were discovered clinging to a lobster pot by a local fisherman.

A major search was launched after the 17-year-old and 23-year-old failed to return from paddleboarding on Wednesday evening.

An RNLI spokeswoman said they were found by a local fisherman and are believed to have survived for more than 15 hours in the water.

She said: “They were found by a local fisherman and his son who set off to search this morning. They headed down by Inis Oirr when they spotted them clinging to a lobster pot.

The lifeboat crews are over the moonRNLI spokeswoman

“They are safe and well and were brought to Inis Oirr to be picked up by Coast Guard helicopter. The lifeboat crews are over the moon,” said the spokeswoman.

Gardai, the Coast Guard and local search teams had been scouring the coastline in the Furbo beach area of Connemara, Co Galway, for the missing women.

The Irish Coast Guard tweeted: “Two Missing Paddle Boarders located and being transferred to the care of the HSE, search is now standing down, thank you to everyone that assisted in this SAR operation.”

The two women were taken to Galway University Hospital for treatment but their condition was unknown.

Galway TD and Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton praised the Irish Coast Guard, Gardai and local volunteers for “their speedy response and quick thinking”.

“They all worked tirelessly overnight and this morning in the search for the two missing paddleboarders since the alarm was raised last night. Their quick thinking and bravery have resulted in the safe return of two young ladies to their families today,” she said.

“The appreciation of the work of our emergency services can be heard in the shared sigh of relief not just across Galway, but indeed nationwide, as the good news reached us this afternoon.”

“Thankfully this most recent event has had a happy ending; however, it is imperative for us all to be vigilant of the sea and the elements as we enjoy our coastline during the fine weather.”

PA