independent

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Irish Coastguard issues warning as ‘wave watcher’ swept off pier during Superstorm Christine

Coastguard issues warning to people about pastime

A MAN was swept off Howth pier and a number of people put themselves in danger in Dun Laoghaire while watching waves break during Superstorm Christine.

Speaking earlier today on RTE’s Morning Ireland, the Coastguard’s Declan Geoghegan warned members of the public to keep themselves at a safe distance from the sea following the two incidents.

During the storms over the Christmas period, Mr Geoghegan explained that a number of people were going to coastal areas to take pictures and put them on social media.

However, people were putting themselves at risk by indulging in such a pastime.

Mr Geoghegan said such problems are becoming more commonplace for the Coastguard, and putting their rescue teams needlessly at risk.

“We had an incident yesterday evening with a person on the east pier on Howth. Suddenly they were swept off it and suffered a broken ankle.

“Fortunately they were swept onto the lower pier and not out to sea and they suffered injuries.

“It was a man on the pier, obviously he was getting as close as he possibly could to observe the waves breaking and a wave comes in and just sweeps him off the pier wall,” Mr Geoghegan explained.

The sea was so rough that the rescue team opted to put him in a lifeboat and bring him to the other side of the harbour rather than bring him along the pier wall for their own safety.

“Then later on we had a further incident in Dun Laoghaire on the East Pier where a number of people were obviously down watching the waves breaking and with the assistance of the coastguard and the gardai we had to close access to them and keep them monitored.

“That’s happening right around the country and unfortunately we can’t monitor all areas.

“But this is becoming quite a pastime for some people and posting pictures on social media but they are putting themselves in extreme danger.”

Mr Geoghegan warned people to take extra caution today.

“Although it will moderate later on, you still have the tide, winds and high swells which will very quickly sweep someone into the sea before they can get out of the danger area.

“There is another aspect to it, it’s also putting rescue teams at risk for no good reason.

“Obviously people want to go an observe this and maybe take pictures, but always remain at a safe distance.

“Stay at very, very safe distance from breaking seas and do not go out on exposed areas such as cliffs, piers and harbour walls as people can be swept off before you know it.”

Following a number of storms over the festive period, Mr Geoghegan said Coastguard personnel have been busy – but are “coping quite well”.

“We’ve had an extremely busy period, and  in some cases suffered some damage to equipment.

“Fortunately no personnel has been  injured but it’s been an extremely busy period and we’re coping quite well at the moment.”

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