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‘Extreme’ weather behind sea rescues

RNLI crew

RNLI crew

A year of extreme weather has been blamed for Blackpool having the second highest number of lifeboat call-outs in the north of England.

Despite launching fewer times than last year, Blackpool RNLI was still extremely busy in 2013, according to new figures released by the charity.

In Fleetwood, however, call-outs were up more than a third and the number of people rescued – 63 – was almost double the previous year.

The end-of-year statistics show there were 152 launches last – 78 from Blackpool, 46 from Fleetwood and 28 from Lytham – and 95 people were rescued, with Sunderland the only place with more calls outs.

Blackpool Helmsman David Warburton, said: “The fact we had a pretty hot summer meant there were more people about and the law of averages says that means we are going to be busy.

“Accidents will happen but we would encourage people to take a few minutes to think about the beach and sea before going to enjoy themselves.

“I think in the last few years it feels Blackpool in general has had a bit of a resurgence in terms of visitors.”

He welcomed the extra footfall in the resort, but highlighted two key dangers people need to be aware of.

He added: “People should be very careful with inflatables and remember that 
alcohol and the sea do not mix.”

Fleetwood coxswain Paul Ashworth said: “Last year was an average year. In 2012 we were very quiet.

“It is quite treacherous, our coastline, it’s very shallow so the tide comes in very quickly and comes in a long way.”

He also said Fleetwood’s status as an all-weather lifeboat station means it handles calls Blackpool cannot.

He added: “We are getting a new state-of the-art boat, next year, that guarantees our status for the next 25 years.”

After a busy summer, the Fylde coast was then battered by stormy weather with the seawall breached several times.

Iconic images showed how the Promenade was turned into a river when a combination of rain, high winds and high tides struck.

In October, a life-boat was launched to rescue a man who jumped off North Pier into the sea before a member of staff came to his rescue.

Three lifeboats and the coastguard were called to help search for a 17ft motorboat carrying a family-of-four after it broke down off the coast at Knott End. Fleetwood. In 2013, Paul Morris, 41, was swept into the sea by South Pier on New Year’s Day.

Despite a desperate search and rescue attempt, his body was found off Fleetwood beach.

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