48 people rescued from sinking boat near Skomer Island

media captionBarrie Yelland, Milford Haven Coastguard: "The vessel started to sink quite rapidly"

A total of 48 passengers, including children, have been rescued from a boat after it struck a rock and was in danger of sinking off Pembrokeshire.

The Lady Helen had been sailing from Martin's Haven to nearby Skomer Island.

A mayday was sent out and passengers were transferred to rescue vessels after the boat started taking in water as she was towed back to the mainland.

Milford Haven coastguard said all 48 passengers were "safely ashore with no injuries".

Boat trips are popular to Skomer, a wildlife sanctuary and home to colonies of thousands of sea birds just off the Pembrokeshire coast.

Lady Helen was heading from Martin's Haven to Skomer when she ran aground on a rock at Little Sound, said the coastguard.

A mayday alert was issued at 12:55 BST and the RNLI lifeboats from Angle and St David's were scrambled, along with a Dyfed-Powys Police rib and an RAF helicopter from Chivenor in Devon.

Sister boat the Dale Princess managed to drag the Lady Helen off the rock using a line but she began taking in water as they headed back to shore.

Milford Haven Coastguard watch manager Barrie Yelland told BBC Wales: "Several vessels in the area also responded and went to the assistance of Lady Helen.

"They started to tow her back to Martin's Haven but unfortunately she started to sink and they decided to transfer all the passengers to the other vessels.

"It's something we try not to do unless we have to because there's a danger in transferring people at sea but it came apparent there was no option."

media captionVideo footage released by the RNLI shows the Lady Helen sinking, as Tomos Dafydd reports

All 48 passengers were reported to be safely ashore with no injuries.

"Everyone has done an excellent job carrying out this rescue, including all the various vessels that responded," said Mr Yelland.

"Special thanks must also go out to the boat Over Dale," said the watch manager.

One of those helping passengers was diver Dr Pauline Crossland, on board Over Dale.

"We were a group of divers who were on our way out and a mayday call was put out," she said.

"A number of boats had to go to its rescue.

"We had quite a few children and elderly ladies on our boat. The children were initially a bit scared. They said the boat had been listing. But once we gave them a Twix each they were fine."

Lady Helen was beached at Martin's Haven and there are three salvage pumps on board and she was being pulled further up the shore.

image captionLady Helen back at Martin's Haven being pumped out