Cockle pickers rescued off Lytham coast

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A MASSIVE search and rescue operation was launched after around 100 cockle pickers got into difficulty in high winds on the Ribble Estuary.

Ten people had to be rescued as rapidly fading light, high wind and towering waves meant approximately 30 boats working the cockle beds struggled to get back to shore.

Cockle pickers are rescued from Ribble Estuary in Lytham by the coastguard and RNLI

Cockle pickers are rescued from Ribble Estuary in Lytham by the coastguard and RNLI

Distress flares were fired into the air as desperate cocklers found their fishing boats filling with icy water.

Three lifeboats scoured the area and search helicopters flew overhead to make sure all the boats made it safely to shore.

Coastguards rescued two men and assisted other boats who were having difficulty controlling their vessels in the high wind.

Other cocklers were rescued by colleagues in bigger boats.

Severe weather warnings had been issued by the Met Office alerting people to the dangerous conditions.

Conditions had inititially been fine but turned and a rescue operation was launched at around 6.40pm, the Coastguard said.

For full story see Today’s Gazette.