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Sunday 21 September 2014

Rescue operation underway for 97 people, including children, as sailing dinghies hit by stormy weather

Claire Cromie

Published 11/08/2014 | 15:13

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That Shannon based search & rescue helicopter was deployed
The Coastguard and the RNLI are at the scene

A major rescue operation was underway at Killyleagh, Strangford Lough, this afternoon where around 80 dinghies were overturned by a wave.

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A total of 97 people - including children - were in the water at Killyleagh, where a boat race was taking place.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said ten people have been injured and most are showing signs of hypothermia.

Ambulance crews are still treating them on scene.

An aerial image of Strangford Lough, where today's incident is taking place. (Photo: Google Maps)

"It's believed that all those in the water have been accounted for," said a spokesman.

"However rescue units on scene, including the helicopters and lifeboats, are carrying out further searches to make sure."

The Bangor and Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Teams, the Portaferry and Newcastle RNLI lifeboats, the Irish Coast Guard helicopter along with the helicopter from RAF Valley were all sent to the scene.

The Ulster Hospital declared a "major incident", where staff were on standby to treat casualties.

A Northern Ireland Ambulance Service spokesperson said: "At 2.15pm this afternoon the Coastguard contacted the Ambulance Service to declare a major incident as a result of possibly up to 100 people in the water.

"We have sent a number of officers, four A&E crews and three patient care service vehicles."

He said that approximately six people were thought to have hypothermia.

"At the minute that is the most serious condition involved with the people."

The Coastguard added: "Belfast Coastguard was first contacted just before 2pm reporting that some of the boats had capsized, while others were struggling to cope in the strong winds and squally showers."

The Exe Sails GP14 2014 World Championship were taking place at East Down Yacht Club.

Belfast Telegraph

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