Thirty rowers rescued as weather turns nasty
THIRTY rowers were saved from Lough Derg last night after a sudden change in the weather wreaked havoc on a rowing race.
A major search-and-rescue operation was mounted after rowers taking part in an FISA world rowing race got into difficulty.
At 5.40pm, a member of the public contacted the coastguard at Valentia after he spotted a rowing boat beached on the shore of the lake.
The race, which involved 90 rowers – 18 boats with five crew members each – had set off from Portumna and was due to finish at Killaloe.
However, sudden winds reached force six and there was a 2ft swell, causing a number of the boats to capsize. Coastguard boats from Shannon, Lough Derg and Killaloe were dispatched along with units from the civil defence and a search-and-rescue helicopter.
The rowers were part of a group from countries including Norway, Germany and the UK.
There was considerable confusion about how many persons may have been missing, which resulted in a major search-and-rescue operation being launched.
It was later confirmed that three of the boats had managed to refloat themselves – however, one craft was reported to be "unaccounted for".
It's believed that none of those on board were wearing a lifejacket as it's not possible to row this type of boat while wearing one.
Gardai and the ambulance service were alerted and gardai began checking the hotel where the visitors were staying in case they had returned there – however, they were soon able to determine that everyone in the group was accounted for.
At around 7.30pm, the Killaloe Coast Guard rescue boat brought eight people ashore at the University of Limerick Activity Centre at Twomilegate near Killaloe.
In total, 25 people were taken ashore at Twomilegate where they were all assessed and treated by paramedics. Fifteen people were treated for hypothermia.
The remaining missing people were located a short time later and were safe and well.