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Dover RNLI volunteers assist early morning search for woman in sea Folkestone

Lifeboats News Release

The volunteer lifeboat crew at Dover continued their recent busy streak this morning when they assisted in a search for a woman believed to be in distress in the sea off Folkestone.

Dover RNLI lifeboat is barely visible among rough seas during the search

Freddie Lee Thompson

Dover RNLI lifeboat is barely visible among rough seas during the search

In rough seas and challenging weather conditions brought by Storm Angus, the lifeboat crew members leapt from their beds at 5.50am at the sound of their pagers, after the UK Coastguard requested assistance.

The call came amid reports that a woman had been reported missing and was last seen at Folkestone Harbour.

Dover RNLI’s Severn class lifeboat, City of London II, was launched at approximately 6am and proceeded to Folkestone to help search for the woman.

Local UK Coastguard rescue teams and the search and rescue helicopter based at Lydd were also involved, while South East Coast Ambulance Service vehicles went to the scene.

The search was made more difficult by high seas and the coastline being battered by gale force winds and heavy rain overnight.

The woman was eventually spotted by the helicopter crew, but the lifeboat crew were unable to get close to her because of the many rocks in the sea and wave conditions in the area. She was airlifted by helicopter and taken to a local hospital.

Robert Bendhiaf, duty coxswain of Dover RNLI lifeboat, said: ‘The conditions were pretty bad, and obviously all parties were very concerned about the woman. Sadly, we have now learned that the woman did not survive and was pronounced dead at hospital.

‘This is a tragic outcome and we are all very sad that she did not survive. As with many of our launches, we do not yet know the reasons why this woman was in the sea, but needless to say it is an awful outcome and the crews thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of this young lady.’

A spokesperson for Kent Police said: ‘A 39-year-old Folkestone woman was recovered from the sea and was taken to a local hospital. She was later confirmed deceased and next of kin were informed.

‘Police are not currently treating this as suspicious and a report is being prepared for the Coroner.’

Today’s launch by the lifeboat crew follows a busy weekend when they were tasked to go to the aid of a tanker, Saga Sky, which had lost engine power and drifted into a barge carrying rocks. In that incident the lifeboat crew stood guard while a number of the tanker crew were airlifted by a search and rescue helicopter.

RNLI media contacts

  • Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207426, 07785 296252
  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789
Dover RNLI lifeboat and search and rescue helicopter search for the woman

Freddie Lee Thompson

Dover RNLI lifeboat and search and rescue helicopter search for the woman
Dover RNLI lifeboat pictured searching the seas off Folkestone

Freddie Lee Thompson

Dover RNLI lifeboat pictured searching the seas off Folkestone

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland