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Last Updated: Monday, 5 March 2007, 08:35 GMT
Pair washed off wall and drowned
Rescue at Mullion Cove
The pair were winched into a rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose
A man and a woman have been killed after being washed off a harbour wall in Cornwall.

The couple were walking along the pier at Mullion Cove when a wave washed them into the sea in gale force winds.

Coastguards were contacted shortly after 1700 GMT on Sunday and an RNLI lifeboat and Royal Navy rescue helicopter were dispatched.

Gale force winds and rough seas meant the bodies of the pair could only be reached by the helicopter.

The rope snapped and he drifted back out to sea
Julian Sturdy

A BBC television crew from Norwich filming in Mullion managed to get a life-belt to the man but the rope snapped.

Julian Sturdy, who threw the life-belt, said huge waves swept the man out.

He said: "I saw him go under, but he then revived, saw the belt and swam for it.

"He got into it and I held on to the piece of rope. I managed to pull him towards the harbour wall and I held on to him for a couple of minutes in the hope he might be able to scramble on to the rock.

"But, sadly, the rope snapped and he drifted back out to sea."

Eyewitnesses said the woman quickly slipped underwater.

Lifeboat injuries

Rescuers winched the stricken couple into an RNAS Culdrose helicopter and they were taken to the Royal Cornwall Hospital at Treliske, Truro, but were pronounced dead.

The Lizard lifeboat was also sent to the scene. On its return, the sea was so rough two crew members suffered minor injuries and the boat suffered minor damage when she fell off a wave and dropped approximately 30ft (9m) into a trough.

Coxswain Philip Burgess said there was a 30ft to 40ft (9m to 12m) swell in the area at the time.

A Falmouth Coastguard spokesman said the woman was believed to be from outside the area.

Exposed harbour

He said: "The sea was extremely rough at the time. There were gale force winds, heavy rain and big waves.

"They were basically washed off the breakwater at Mullion Cove by a wave. The harbour is quite exposed to rough weather."

Police have not named the man and woman and said they were in the process of contacting next of kin.

The helicopter had previously been scrambled during the day to rescue a girl swept away by a river on Dartmoor in Devon. She died in hospital overnight.


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