Page last updated at 12:55 GMT, Sunday, 31 May 2009 13:55 UK

Rescued boys' mother 'shopping'

Hilbre Island
The boys were found on a sandbank off Hilbre island

Two young children were found neck deep in an incoming tide on a Wirral beach when their mother left them to go shopping, lifeguards have said.

The boys, aged four and five, were found on a sandbank at an islet off Hilbre island, near West Kirby, as temperatures soared on Saturday.

Some members of their family were later found searching for the pair about half-a-mile away on the beach.

Lifeguards have urged parents to watch their children while at the beach.

The boys were unharmed in the incident and reunited with other members of their family.

Lifeguard supervisor Tim Fowler told the BBC he was "shocked" to find the boys unattended.

We have had literally hundreds of lost children since this period of good weather started
Tony Jones, head lifeguard

"They [relatives] knew they were somewhere on the beach but they didn't know where they were," he said.

"The kids had gone off and they were frantically looking for them.

"I went back up the beach and met the grandmother who was going to be unhappy with the children, but I told her not to be - because it was her responsibility."

Head lifeguard Tony Jones said sandbanks were dangerous places when tides turn.

"These two really young children were at the back of Hilbre on the tidal sands and Mum had taken herself off shopping.

"A word of caution is that if you are bringing youngsters down to the beach - stay with them. Don't take your eyes off them.

"We have had literally hundreds of lost children since this period of good weather started."

An estimated 2,000 people were enjoying the sun on the beach at West Kirby on Sunday.

Hilbre is one of three tidal islands lying at the mouth of the Dee Estuary, along with Little Eye and Middle Eye.

All three islands, which are nature reserves, are accessible by foot from West Kirby but are cut off by tides for four out of every 12 hours.

The boys were found around the back of Little Eye, which lies about half-a-mile out on the sands.

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