River rescue charity warns public over life-belt recovery

Lifesaving equipment in the water Image copyright Mourne Search and Rescue
Image caption Mourne Search and Rescue say lifesaving equipment is being thrown into the river "at least twice weekly"

A river rescue charity is warning people who enter the water to recover vandalised life saving equipment that they are putting their own lives at risk.

Mourne Search and Rescue say lifesaving riverside equipment is being thrown into the River Mourne in County Tyrone "at least twice weekly".

The latest incident happened in Strabane last weekend.

The group is warning the public of the risks of trying to retrieve equipment.

Jeff Barr from the river rescue group said there was an inherent risk in going into the river.

He said over recent weeks the group had been told about people entering the water to retrieve discarded belts and throw lines.

'Risk'

"The last thing we want is for people having to go into the river unnecessarily, and particularly going in after life-belts," he said.

"It's a big enough risk for ourselves to do that."

He said the repeated vandalism was "causing major public concern" and warned people could die, if equipment is damaged or lost, when an emergency occurs.

"There seems to be at least two incidents a week now, it is happening too often," he added.

In the weekend incident in Strabane, life belts were thrown back into the river less than 24 hours after being recovered from the Mourne.

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