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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 07:27 GMT
RNLI rescues 160 in year
Redcar lifeboat -
It costs 290,000 a day to run the RNLI
More than 160 people were rescued by the RNLI in Northern Ireland last year, the busiest year on record for the service.

Lifeboats were launched almost 200 times with more than 50 of the operations taking place out of Portrush in County Antrim.

Owen Medland from the RNLI said the service depended on public support now more than ever because of the growing number of call-outs.

"It's not often recognised we are one of the oldest charities and we are in our 180th year and entirely supported by voluntary donations," he said.

"It is important for our general public, who we rely upon wholeheartedly for full support as a charity, to ensure that we can actually strive to meet our vision."

Portush lifeboat station has one all weather lifeboat, a Severn class and one inshore lifeboat, a D class.

Lifeboats around the British Isles were launched a record total of 8,047 times, rescuing 7,815 people - an average of 21 people every day.

Michael Vlasto of the RNLI said the number of rescue attempts had more than doubled since 1986, when it stood at 3,724.

"We believe this trend is due to a number of factors, such as the changing patterns of sea use by the public, improved search and rescue techniques and the dramatic growth in the use of mobile telephones among the public," he said.

It costs 290,000 a day to run the RNLI - a total of 107m last year.

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