30 rescued as tall ship hits rocks
Thirty people have been rescued from a tall ship which ran aground off the south coast of Ireland.
The vessel - the Astrid, a Dutch tall ship - hit rocks off the Sovereign Islands near Kinsale, Co Cork, as it attempted to navigate the western entrance to the harbour near the tourist town.
The lifeboat service described it as a major sea and air rescue.
Just before 1pm RNLI crews reported that 18 crew members had been rescued and were on board a lifeboat on their way to shore. The other 12 crew are also understood to have been rescued and taken on board a second tall ship.
A spokesman for the Irish Coast Guard said four RNLI lifeboats, including crews from Kinsale, Ballycotton and Courtmacsherry along the Cork coast, were sent to the scene. The two Irish Coast Guard rescue helicopters based at Shannon and Waterford were also scrambled.
A spokeswoman for the event the boat was taking part in said it had suffered engine failure as it was making its way to Kinsale. "At 11.50pm the captain of the tall ship Astrid signalled that he had a problem. We stood by, and other boats also stood by. We simply did not have the power to pull the Astrid off the rocks," she said. "It was engine failure."
The Astrid was leaving Oysterhaven Bay on its way to Kinsale, about five miles away. The conditions at sea were said to be poor with winds of force 5/6.
Other tall ships taking part in the event were Celtic Mist from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, Spirit of Oysterhaven, and boats from Hull, Tollesbury, Shoreham on Sea, Hamble, Portsmouth, Poole, Salcombe in the UK.
The boats were part of The Gathering Cruise which was due to arrive in Kinsale on Wednesday and continue to the Glandore Classic Boat regatta on Friday. It is one of hundreds of events being held in Ireland in a mass tourism drive to get people with Irish links to visit the country.
Vincent O'Donovan, of the Courtmacsherry RNLI lifeboat, said the Astrid was sinking. "The rescued crew are certainly all shocked," he told RTE Radio. "It's been a dramatic experience since 12 noon when they went aground and the boat started to sink."