Coast: Warning to holiday-makers about dangers of mudflats after man gets stuck for hours

RNLI lifeboat

RNLI lifeboat - Credit: Archant © 2012

People are being warned to take care by mudflats after a man got stuck for several hours.

The hot weather has seen thousands of families flock to the seaside since the start of the school summer holidays but the region’s coastguard teams have reported dozens of calls for missing children and people stranded in mud.

Coastguards have now issued a warning for people to avoid mudflats as they may be unaware of how dangerous they can be.

Ryan Hann, 20, of St Osyth, was walking on mudflats near the River Colne when he lost his bearings and got stuck in the early hours of Thursday morning. Coastguard teams were alerted after his cries for help were heard but he managed to free himself following a terrifying few hours.

He said: “I was stuck for hours, I was screaming for help. I had to go through the mud for hours. It was scary stuff.

“I was rolling across it, clawing my way through, doing everything I could. I was thinking about my daughter and my girlfriend at home. I was up to my waist but I managed to get into the water. I was just exhausted, shocked and shivering.”

He had no way to call for help as his mobile phone’s battery had lost its charge. After several hours, Mr Hann managed to drag himself out of the water.

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The Clacton RNLI Inshore Lifeboat and Clacton and Mersea Coastguard teams all carried out a search of the River Colne but stood down after police officers came across Mr Hann at 4.50am.

A spokesman for Thames Coastguard said: “During the summer you get a lot of people wandering out on the mud but it can be dangerous. It’s like quicksand in places – you only need to get both feet stuck six inches above the ankle and you won’t be able to get out.

“Our people have specialist training, so they can go out on the mud for rescues. A particular problem comes from tourists and maritime visitors who might not be aware of the tides and the mud. We know this is a threat during the summer and are prepared.”