RNLI's 'busiest' year for SW flood rescues

RNLI flood rescue training The RNLI said its flood rescue team was deployed 11 times in England and Wales last year - six of which were in the South West

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The RNLI's flood rescue service had its busiest year on record in the South West in 2012.

It deployed a total of 11 times across England - with six of the destinations being in the region.

In December, a woman being washed away in flood water near Umberleigh, Devon, was saved and 12 people were rescued in Lostwithiel, Cornwall.

There were 81 fewer lifeboat launches, but volunteer crews rescued 1,609 people - 38 more than in 2011.

The charity said the wet weather resulted in fewer beach rescues last year, with lifeguards helping more than 11,000 people - about 2,000 down on 2011.

Olympic sailing

Poole in Dorset was the busiest lifeboat station with 109 launches. Plymouth was second with the Devon volunteers dealing with 95 call outs, while the Torbay lifeboat, also in Devon, launched 86 times.

In the Channel Islands lifeboat crews rescued a total of 197 people.

St Helier in Jersey launched 62 times and St Catherine's volunteers were called out 26 times. Guernsey's lifeboat in St Peter Port dealt with 21 call outs, while Alderney's lifeboat launched 24 times.

Weymouth lifeboat volunteers were at sea for 2,981 hours - mainly due to increased search and rescue cover during the 2012 Olympic sailing events, the organisation said.

St Helier's Tamar-class lifeboat The St Helier lifeboat in the Channel Island of Jersey launched 26 times in 2012

The three busiest beaches - dealing with a total of 1,392 incidents - were Perranporth and North Fistral in Cornwall and Woolacombe in north Devon.

Andy Hurley, the RNLI regional operations manager, said: "I'm delighted to say the numbers are down which I hope means our prevention messages are getting through to people before they go onto the water.

"However we have seen a rise in the number of fishing boats needing our assistance and in rescues of people ashore, that's folk who are perhaps injured, trapped or cut off by the tide around the sea shore and cliffs.

The South West region for the RNLI covers an area from Weston super Mare in Somerset down the north coast of Devon and Cornwall to the Isles of Scilly, along the south coast to Mudeford in Dorset and including the Channel Islands.

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