Man rescued after spending four hours in the sea off Margate

Lifeboats News Release

In a major multi-agency search and rescue operation Margate’s volunteer lifeboat crew have saved the life of a man who spent four hours in the sea off the north Kent coast.

Margate RNLI's B class and D class lifeboats. (RNLI Margate)

RNLI Margate

Margate RNLI's B class and D class lifeboats. (RNLI Margate)

The alert was sparked around 12.15am today (Saturday 24 June) when UK Coastguard received information that an adult male had entered the sea at Margate harbour and there was concern for his welfare.

Margate RNLI’s D class inshore lifeboat was immediately tasked along with Margate and Herne Bay Coastguard Rescue Teams, Kent Police also responding. An initial search of the immediate area from both seawards and from the shore including deployment of parachute illuminating flares yielded no results and the search was stepped up and widened.

Margate’s B class lifeboat joined the operation along with the Coastguard rescue helicopter from Lydd Airport with UK Coastguard coordinating computed search patterns based on tidal and weather information along with local knowledge input from the rescue units.

Around two hours into the search UK Coastguard received several reports from members of the public of someone shouting for help from the water in the Westgate-on-sea area and the search focused on that area. Despite the cries for help also being heard by the lifeboat crews, coastguard officers and police officers ashore the source could not be identified.

The search was again widened allowing for changing environmental conditions covering the area from Minnis Bay (around four miles west of Margate) to Margate harbour and four hours after the initial alert Margate’s D class lifeboat located the casualty around half a mile off Beresford Gap, Birchington.

He was taken on board the lifeboat where casualty care was provided. The lifeboat returned to Margate and the man was handed into the care of South East Coast Ambulance Service. Coastguard officers and Kent Police were also on scene to provide assistance.

Christian Wright, Deputy Launching Authority, Margate RNLI said: “The longer the search went on the more we feared for a tragic outcome. All those involved in this operation quite simply never gave up hope of finding the man and his survival is down to the skill, commitment, training and perseverance of everyone involved, local knowledge also played an important part in the successful outcome of this incident.”

Key facts about the RNLI

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 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and 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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