Thursday, June 20, 2024

Morecambe Bay: More than 50 cut off by incoming tide over weekend

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More than 50 people were led to safety after becoming cut off by the tide at Morecambe Bay over the bank holiday weekend, rescuers have said.

A family, including a baby in a buggy and two toddlers, were among those in danger due to the incoming tide which had quickly surrounded them.

Gary Parsons, commanding officer of Bay Search and Rescue, said there were a number of incidents in the Silverdale area on Friday and Saturday.

He warned that while no-one was injured, people visiting the area needed to be alert to the dangers posed by the tide and quicksand.

Mr Parsons said his team had also been alerted to a woman and child who were “way out” as the tide started to “push in around them”.

The search and rescue service’s amphibious rescue vehicle, known as the Sherp, went to the site but they had already left after hearing warnings from a team member using a megaphone.

Writing in a Facebook post on Saturday, Mr Parsons said he could “hardly believe” that so many people were out on the bay near the water’s edge as the tide “quietly but sneakily” filled the channel around them.

He said the Sherp was quickly on scene, with a family pushing a buggy and two toddlers “unaware that within a few short minutes they would be swimming for it never mind walking”.

Mr Parsons warned anyone visiting the area to check tide times and to get off the bay in plenty of time, with the tide coming in three hours before high water.

He also warned of the dangers of quicksand, adding it was “the worst I have ever seen it” in the 35 years he has been stationed there.

“My biggest fear is if somebody gets stuck in quicksand with the tide coming in,” he added.

The Bay Search and Rescue team was also able to use its drone to scour the area to check for anyone who may have been cut off by the tide.

“Please be careful, the Bay can be one of the most beautiful but dangerous places in the world so treat it with respect as it bites,” Mr Parsons said.

Mr Parsons also issued a reminder to anyone seeing people in distress to call 999 and ask for the coastguard.

On 5 February 2004, 23 Chinese cockle pickers drowned after being cut off by the tide while working in the dark at Morecambe Bay.

A memorial service was held in February, 20 years after the tragedy, to remember the victims.

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