48 rescued as tourist boat runs aground of Welsh coast

 

Forty eight people have been rescued from a passenger boat after it hit a rock on a Welsh island this afternoon, coastguards said.

The Lady Helen sent out a mayday call just before 1pm saying it had run aground at Little Sound, part of Skomer Island off the Pembrokeshire coast and was taking on water.

Milford Haven coastguard said it launched a massive rescue operation including local lifeboats, a police boat and an RAF rescue helicopter from north Devon.

But all the 48 passengers and crew were rescued safely by other vessels in the area who had been alerted to the sinking ship.

There were no reported injuries to passengers or crew, a Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman said.

A coastguard spokesman said: "At 12.55pm today Milford Haven Coastguard received a mayday call from the passenger vessel Lady Helen, with 48 people on board reporting that they had run aground near Skomer Island and were taking in water.

"Milford Haven Coastguard contacted other vessels in the area by radio and requested Angle and St Davids RNLI lifeboats to attend and the rescue helicopter from RAF Chivenor.

"The passengers were evacuated to other vessels and have been transferred to shore safely where they were met by Broadhaven and Dale Coastguard Rescue Teams.

"There were no injuries to passengers or crew."

The vessel had gone to the island from nearby Martin's Haven and was going back there under tow after being refloated, he added.

The island lies within the Skomer Marine Nature Reserve, a popular spot for wildlife tourism which is a haven for Atlantic grey seals.

The passengers on board the boat reportedly included children.

Pembrokeshire GP Dr Pauline Smith told the BBC she picked up passengers on her friend's boat.

They were on their way out to go scuba diving when they heard the mayday call.

She said: "We had quite a few children and elderly ladies on our boat.

"The children were initially a bit scared. They said the boat had been listing.

"But once we gave them a Twix each they were fine."

PA

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