Coastguard computer alarm

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Lives have been put in danger by a breakdown of computers covering some of Britain's busiest shipping routes, it was claimed last night. Telephone numbers for life-boat stations and rescue helicopters were lost when systems at Dover and Liverpool failed.

While coastguards have written back-ups, the process for finding numbers is slower and can delay rescues, said Dave Clempson, of the Public Service, Tax and Commerce Union. "It slows it down quite considerably and means we are working under a considerable handicap." But a Coastguard Agency spokesman said crews are trained for such circumstances.