Canoeist dies on voyage from Orkney to Shetland

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The Independent Online
A FRENCH CANOEIST died trying to paddle 75 miles across the open sea from Orkney to Shetland yesterday in a weekend which saw a series of fatal accidents to sportsmen, writes Stephen Ward.

The 57-year-old man, an experienced sea canoeist, was found dead beside his capsized craft 14 miles south of the Fair Isle, the Shetland coastguards said. He had been on holiday in the area for a week and left the Orkney island of North Ronaldsay on Saturday afternoon.

After an intensive air and sea search, the canoe was spotted by an RAF Sea King helicopter and the body was taken to Lerwick.

A coastguard spokesman said a new code for canoeists had been launched at 20 Coastguard stations just two weeks ago. He said the man who died had adhered to 'a lot of them, but possibly not all of them'. He would not specify which, in advance of any investigation. The code stressed the need for canoeists to liaise fully with coastguards.

Two hang-glider pilots were killed yesterday after their machines collided in mid-air over the village of Martin near Fordingbridge, Hampshire. A Hampshire Police spokesman said: 'No one saw the accident and we were alerted when a woman called to say she had seen a man falling out of the sky.'

The British Hang-gliding and Paragliding Association will investigate the crash on behalf of the Department of Transport.

A 20-year-old climber from Burnley, Lancashire, died from a fall while scaling the Central Buttress on 3,210ft Scafell Pike, Wasdale, in the Lake District on Saturday. In west Wales, a climber was taken by RAF helicopter to hospital in Haverfordwest suffering from severe head injuries after falling 40ft down a cliff face, but died last night.

A balloonist suffered head, wrist and chest injuries in a crash yesterday after breaking a world record. Julia Bayly, 34, was in a harness balloon when high winds brought her crashing into a hill at Hebden Bridge, near Halifax, West Yorkshire. She was detained in the Royal Infirmary for observation but was not seriously hurt.

Mrs Bayly, vice-chairman of the British Balloon and Airship Club, had broken the harness balloon world record for women when the accident occurred, just before 9am. She had completed 50km - believed to be her target for the record which had previously stood at 28km - before the crash. Paramedics had to walk for half an hour over moorland to reach her.