A major rescue operation was launched in the early hours of today (July 20) following reports of 40 people cut off by the tide and one person in difficulties in the sea to the east of Margate.
Shortly after midnight, UK Coastguard received reports of 40 people cut off by the tide at Botany Bay around two miles east of Margate.
A major rescue operation was launched involving Margate and Ramsgate RNLI’s B class inshore lifeboats along with Ramsgate RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat acting as On-scene Coordinator.
Coastguard Rescue Teams from Margate and Herne Bay were tasked along with the coastguard rescue helicopter from Lydd Airport, Kent Police also responded with a large number of units. Once on scene coastguard officers were informed that a naked male had entered the sea and was heard to be calling for help, he was not seen to leave the water.
The shoreside responders were able to guide the group to the safety of the clifftop via a cliff path, meanwhile a search operation got under way to find the person in the sea. The seaward search included the use of parachute illuminating flares, searchlights and airborne electronic detection aids with coastguard units carrying out a shoreline search.
Conditions were benign with little or no tidal effect restricting the search area to close inshore between North Foreland and Walpole Bay, Margate. After three hours of searching with the initial group safely recovered to the clifftop and no further reports of any missing persons the search was terminated and the rescue units released.
Lee Button, Deputy Launching Authority, Margate RNLI said: “All involved were faced with a potentially serious mass-casualty rescue operation, all in the dark. As well as the immediate concern for the reported person in the water there was the risk that some of the group would attempt to make their own way to safety complicating an already complex operation.
“Thankfully the shoreside teams were able to assist the group to safety and we urge people to think of the potential for being cut off by the tide when on beaches in the area.”