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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 July 2007, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
Irish children swept out to sea
A child rescued from the Irish Sea
The sailors were said to be cold but unharmed
A major rescue operation was launched off the Irish coast on Thursday after 110 children were swept out to sea.

About 20 people were reported missing shortly afterwards, though Ireland's coastguard later said everyone had been rescued safely.

The children were taking part in a junior sailing regatta off the County Dublin coast, when a sudden squall capsized 91 boats in the Irish Sea.

Lifeboats, helicopters and the navy were all deployed in the rescue effort.

"Suddenly the wind blew up and visibility dropped and we had to get the kids out," said Paula O'Connor, an administrator with the Royal St George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, where the event took place.

"They are all accounted for," a coastguard official said.

"Emergency services are on the scene and were treating the children who were taken from the water and were extremely cold."

Upturned boats in Dun Laoghaire
Dozens of boats were upturned by the freak gusts

Nobody suffered serious injuries, officials said.

The sudden gust of wind took young sailors by surprise as they took part in the Irish National Yacht Club event.

The competitors were all children under 16, a coastguard spokesman said.

They were understood to have been sailing dinghies for various yacht clubs when they were hit by the squall at about 1400 local time (1300 GMT).

They were all wearing buoyancy aids and were rescued within a mile of the coastline.

One of the children explains what happened

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