Swimmer rescued in harbour drama

COASTGUARDS last night warned swimmers of the perils of strong tides following a major rescue operation on the East Anglian coast.Coastguards, paramedics and a helicopter crew from Wattisham Airfield were deployed to Southwold Harbour shortly after 3.

By Danielle Nuttall

COASTGUARDS last night warned swimmers of the perils of strong tides following a major rescue operation on the East Anglian coast.

Coastguards, paramedics and a helicopter crew from Wattisham Airfield were deployed to Southwold Harbour shortly after 3.15pm yesterday following an emergency call reporting eight swimmers in difficulty in the water.

A member of the public on a body board is believed to have rescued a stricken female swimmer from the water before the arrival of the emergency services.


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Ambulance staff treated the victim at the scene but her condition was not serious and did not require hospital treatment.

It is believed the woman became distressed while struggling against the strong current. Coastguards said the other swimmers were able to reach the shore on their own.

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Shocked sunbathers watched as the yellow rescue helicopter landed on sand dunes, close to the town's lifeboat station.

One told last night how she had seen the victim lying on the sand while paramedics administered first aid.

"My house is next to the beach and I saw the helicopter flying overhead. It came down on the dunes so I went across to see what was happening," she said.

"The chap was kneeling towards this person lying on the ground. A chap from the helicopter came out with a pack on his back and went to see the person in distress.

"Someone told me there was jelly fish, some woman had to be hauled out of the sea because of jelly fish.

"It was quite dramatic. Living next door to the beach, you often have people falling into the river going to rescue their dogs."

The woman, who did not want to be named, said she was later told the victim had become stranded on a sandbank and was rescued by two body boarders.

Glynn Young, acting watch manager at Yarmouth Coastguard, said there had been a strong current during the day with a strong offshore wind, and warned swimmers to take extra caution.

"It was quite windy and disorientating for everybody. All I can say is if anybody does see anyone in trouble on the beach or in the water then dial 999 and ask for the coastguard. The earlier we get the report, the faster we can get there."

Mr Young said the original emergency call was received at 3.15pm.

"We had a report of eight people in the water at Southwold Harbour who appeared to be in difficulty so we immediately called the inshore lifeboat at Southwold, Lowestoft coastguard, and the rescue helicopter. The ambulance service were made aware and attended," he said.

"One person was recovered from the water by a member of the public and was seen by the ambulance service and the coastguard and that's when the rescue helicopter landed on the beach.

"They were just shocked, having been distressed in the water. They decided to stay on the beach after treatment from the ambulance service. The others came ashore on their own."

A spokesman for the rescue helicopter at Wattisham said a crew was deployed to Southwold but was later stood down.

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