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16 stranded people rescued off Wells

PUBLISHED: 09:50 31 July 2008 | UPDATED: 10:24 07 July 2010

Coastguards were called after more than a dozen people became stranded off the coast of Wells yesterday afternoon.

Wells inshore lifeboat ferried 16 people off areas around Bob Hall Sands as they were caught out by the turning tide.

Coastguards were called after more than a dozen people became stranded off the coast of Wells yesterday afternoon.

Wells inshore lifeboat ferried 16 people off areas around Bob Hall Sands as they were caught out by the turning tide.

The incident started at about 2.30pm when coastguards were called by a woman who said her husband and a child had been trapped on the sands by the incoming tide, lifeboat crews said.

This was the start of a chain of events which resulted at one point in eight people and an inflatable dinghy being brought to safety by the RNLI Well inshore lifeboat, which ferried them to the shore.

Allan Frary, coxswain at Wells, said: “Once we had brought the man and child ashore we spotted another eight people close to being cut off further up the channel.”

Once that group had been brought ashore, a further group was spotted to the south of the lifeboat station and they were also brought ashore.

It took more than 40 minutes to ferry them all to safety.

“It started with the first two and then it escalated,” he said. “We ended up transporting 16 people. It is normal practise to do a sweep after a call out and it was then when we spotted the others.”

They are mostly thought to be tourists who had not read signs or heard a klaxon warning of the incoming tide.

Coastguard watch manager Mario Siano said: "What strikes us is that in this highly popular spot for summer visitors on such a balmy day, tourists just don't read the signs.

"There is specifically a klaxon installed at the harbour to alert people out on the sands to the change of tide, and yet still people choose to walk out.

“Our advice is that if you don't know the area very well or how to get back, then ask someone, or at least check the weather and tides with the Coastguard.

"The weather has been marvellous today locally, high clouds, warm sun and flat seas. A perfect day. But the tide will still come in very quickly, and trap the unwary as it did today.

“Our thanks are due to the lifeboat crews who ended up providing a virtual ferry service this afternoon."

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