Drowned fishermen `had no lifebelts'

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The Independent Online
THREE PEOPLE who drowned during a bank holiday fishing trip when their boat capsized in fierce waves just 100 yards from the shore might have survived if they had been wearing life jackets, according to coastguards.

The 18ft boat with six people on board sank on Loch Awe, near Oban, Argyll, after surrounding hills funnelled force five winds across the water. Three people managed to swim to the bank after the accident on Saturday. A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said the three may have died needlessly. He said: "We urge anyone who is going out on to the water to wear a life jacket at all times because it could save your life." The bodies of Martin Rush, 15, of New Cumnock, Alan Pennel, 28, of Airdrie and William Linden, 36, of Whiskyhall, Mossblown, were discovered yesterday.

Bad weather also hampered the search for two experienced divers missing off the coast of Kent yesterday afternoon. A search by coastguard helicopters and aircraft using heat- seeking equipment had to be called off after torrential rain and lightning storms lashed the coast.

But a nine-year-old boy who disappeared during a trip to a fair in Kennington Park, south London, with friends on Saturday was reunited with his family yesterday after an appeal by Scotland Yard.

Although the temperatures reached 27C (81F) on the South Coast on Saturday - the warmest day recorded in Britain this year - the sun soon gave way to rain. Many resorts in the South-west were deserted as visitors stayed indoors to avoid the downpours. Hailstones the size of pebbles were reported at Torbay, Devon, while Plymouth was battered by winds of up to 70mph. The storms left 4,000 homes temporarily without power. Berkshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire were also badly affected by rain and firefighters in many areas were fielding hundreds of calls to pump out buildings. London Fire Brigade said it received 900 calls for help in four hours on Saturday, more than four times the average. In some parts of the country more than 3in fell in less than half-an-hour. Most areas were expected to remain cool and cloudy today with some showers.

An AA Roadwatch spokes-man said the rain meant the roads were unusually quiet for a bank holiday weekend, adding: "There will be some movement back to the major cities at the end of the weekend but because it is half term they will be dribbling back throughout the week as well so there shouldn't be major congestion."

Holidaymakers found services at Heathrow back to normal today. Power cuts at Terminals 3 and 4 on Friday had left many people stranded for up to 24 hours.