SIX men fishing from the end of Tynemouth pier sparked a major emergency services response on Sunday afternoon.
The alarm was raised at 5.30pm after a member of the public reported to police that the men appeared to be in danger as heavy waves were breaking over the pier.
Tynemouth RNLI inshore lifeboat with three volunteer crew members was launched at the request of UK Coastguard's Humber Operations Centre, joining a launch from Northumbria Police Marine Division, and on shore, teams from the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade, Blyth Coastguard Rescue Team, Northumbria Police, Tyne & Wear Fire & Rescue and North East Ambulance Service.
As the lifeboat sped to the scene, the crew were asked by the Coastguard to provide safety cover as four members of the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade (TVLB) used the tunnel that runs through the pier to gain access to the lighthouse end. The police launch also stood by at the pier end.
The fishermen were in no immediate danger but were escorted to safety through the tunnel by the TVLB, and met by officers from Northumbria Police.
Once the men and TVLB members were on safe ground the RNLI lifeboat, TVLB and all other rescue units were stood down.
Adrian Don, spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI, said: "Tynemouth pier is locked during bad weather and at night but fishermen regularly climb the fence to fish from the pier end.
'Waves were breaking over the middle of the pier and although the men were in no immediate danger, if the wind and sea had shifted direction it could have meant very large waves breaking over the top of them which could have washed them into the sea.
'The waves also meant they couldn't safely leave the pier.
'Our volunteer crew members maintained safety cover for the members of the TVLB and the fishermen until they were all safely off the pier.'
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The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.
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