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Thursday, 24 May, 2001, 07:55 GMT 08:55 UK
Inland lifeboat station opens
The new inland station is in Enniskillen
The new inland station is in Enniskillen
The RNLI's first inland lifeboat station will be officially ready for operation in Northern Ireland on Thursday.

Lough Erne Yacht Club in County Fermanagh is the base for the charity's new Enniskillen station.

The RNLI already operates 224 lifeboat stations around the coast of the UK and Republic of Ireland.

But this will be its first base away from the coast on Lough Erne.

Speaking about the station, Angus Watson, the RNLI's inland waters project manager said: "This is an exciting moment in the history of the RNLI and for lifesaving in general."

"We already operate one of the best lifeboat services in the world and we feel this is an opportunity to extend our skills to an inland water where we can really make a difference and potentially save more lives."

On Sunday, the RNLI lifeboat took part in a search for a missing German tourist whose boat had run aground in Lower Lough Erne.

Station

The man's friend, also from Germany, was killed after their cruiser ran aground on Cleenishgarve Island near Castle Archdale on Lower Lough Erne.

Enniskillen will become the 40th RNLI station in Ireland.

According to the organisation, the setting up of Enniskillen lifeboat station is part of a pilot scheme to extend its lifesaving skills by providing a rescue service on large expanses of inland waters.

The charity said it is estimated that over 250 lives are lost each year around inland waters - more than around the coast.

The large stretch of water being covered extends across 50 square miles over two loughs which attract a high level of leisure activity including fishing, sailing, canoeing and over-the-water flying.

The organisation said the new lifeboat station would be served initially by an Atlantic 21 inshore lifeboat but it may prove necessary to have additional resources on the lough in the long term.

Eighteen lifeboat crew have been enrolled and trained ready for operation.

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21 May 01 | Northern Ireland
Search resumes for missing tourist
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