Margate RNLI investigates reports of distress flares
In the second callout in 24 hours Margate’s volunteer RNLI lifeboat crew has carried out a search of the Thames estuary following reports of red distress flares.
Late last night (Monday 5 March) UK Coastguard received two separate reports from each side of the Thames estuary of three red flares estimated to be around five miles north of Westgate Bay. Enquiries were made with ships in the estuary and despite receiving no further reports there was concern the sightings could be authentic due to the original reports being independent. Margate’s RNLI all-weather lifeboat was tasked to investigate. Margate’s Coastguard Rescue Team were also called out to investigate from the shoreside.
The reports coincided with low spring tides which led to concern that a small craft could be in difficulties in the many exposed sandbanks in the estuary. The lifeboat searched around the Margate Sands five miles offshore using searchlights and parachute flares, in particular among the hidden inlets in the offshore sandbanks.
After a three-hour search where nothing untoward was found the search was called off, the call being considered a false alarm with good intent.
Ian Lowe, Deputy Launching Authority, Margate Lifeboat said: “This was a long day for the crew, launching for this search within hours of returning from a previous call to a drifting buoy endangering shipping. Despite nothing being found and the sighting being declared a false alarm with good intent, the crew would rather launch and have a negative search than later hear of a casualty coming to grief after not being reported. If anything untoward is seen at sea please dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.
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Peter Barker, RNLI Margate Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer 07974 064304 email@example.com
Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer (South East), 0207 6207426, 07785 296252 firstname.lastname@example.org
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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 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.
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