Hoax kitesurfer call put rescuers 'in danger'

A suspected hoax caller claiming to be a kitesurfer in distress has put rescuers' lives at risk, says the Swansea Coastguard.

Search teams faced gale force winds and 6ft to 8ft (1.8m to 2.4m) of surf off the coast of Port Talbot on Wednesday.

Nobody was found and the coastguard said the search had put rescuers "in danger unnecessarily".

Coastguard rescue teams, a lifeboat crew and an RAF helicopter were all involved in the search.

Swansea Coastguard watch manager Dai Jones said: "From the initial call there was an indication that this could be a hoax, as there was little sense of urgency in the caller's voice and we could not detect wind noise in the background.

"Despite this, we always have to send out search resources in case it is a genuine emergency, and on this occasion the search area was saturated with nothing found.

"Hoax calls are intensely frustrating for us, and for the rescue teams we send out, especially since the weather today was gale force winds and six to eight feet of surf, meaning we not only waste their time, but also put them in danger unnecessarily."

The call came through from a VHF radio at 1450 GMT from a man who said he was kitesurfing off Port Talbot but having trouble getting back to shore.

When the coastguard asked for more details, the call "dropped out".

The distress message was then relayed to vessels in the area to keep a lookout for anyone in difficulties.

Port Talbot and Mumbles Coastguard rescue teams carried out a shoreline search and the Mumbles RNLI all-weather lifeboat was also requested, along with an RAF helicopter.

Search teams were stood down by 1600 GMT.

"Making hoax calls is against the law, and we always seek to prosecute anyone found doing so," added Mr Jones.

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