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Saturday, 2 February, 2002, 15:35 GMT
Fisherman rescued from stormy sea
Sea wall collapsed at Porthcawl, south Wales
The sea wall at Porthcawl collapsed in the storms
An angler is critically ill after being washed into the sea by a huge wave in storms at Porthcawl, south Wales.

He was fishing alone on the pier on Saturday morning as stormy weather swept across the country.

The Coastguard urge anyone thinking of visiting the coast whilst this stormy weather prevails not to - it just isn't worth the risk

Eric Birkett, Swansea Coastguard

It was one of the most dramatic rescues as storms continued to rage across the UK.

Police are warning the public to stay away from exposed areas around the coast as the gales continue to sweep in from the Atlantic.

Members of the Porthcawl RNLI inshore lifeboat team recovered the fisherman him from the sea and took him to the Princess of Wales Hospital at Bridgend.

He was said to be critically ill in the hospital's intensive care unit.

The force of the weather was so great that part of the sea wall at Porthcawl Pier collapsed and the area was cordoned off.

Sea rescue

Coastguards received a 999 call just before 0930GMT on Saturday morning.

Porthcawl Harbourmaster Les Pearce said he saw the man fishing and tried to warn him about the risk he was taking.

Porthcawl harbourmaster Les Pearce
Harbourmaster Les Pearce tried to warn the man

"I saw this man going up on the wall and I shouted to him from down the steps not to go up there.

"But he took no notice and carried on.

"The next thing was the sea came over in front of him, and he stopped and he ran, and he was up on the end.

"About ten minutes after the sea came right over the breakwater and he was gone."

Ian Stroud of the Porthcawl RNLI said at first, rescuers thought they were too late to save the man.

Ambulance at Porthcawl, south Wales
The man was taken to hospital in Bridgend

"The sea was crashing over the sea walls with a tremendous amount of water.

"The man was swept over and we launched ... recovered the body - as we thought at the time - brought him ashore, and carried out some resus (resusciation) on him".

An RAF rescue helicopter from Chivenor in Devon and the Mumbles lifeboat continued the search following unconfirmed reports that a second person had been swept into the water.

Two fishing rods had been found prompting concern about the possibility of a second missing person.

Coastguard vessel off Porthcawl, south Wales
Coastguards and lifeboats joined the search

The search was later scaled down when eye-witness accounts indicated the man was fishing by himself and owned both rods.

Swansea Coastguard Operations Manager Eric Birkett appealed for information about the man, who is believed to be from the Swansea area.

He said the angler had no means of identification on him and wanted people to come forward if they knew who he might be.

"The coastguard urge anyone thinking of visiting the coast whilst this stormy weather prevails not to," he said.

"It just isn't worth the risk".

The BBC's Helen Simms
"80 mile-an-hour winds brought down the harbour wall at Porthcawl"
Ian Stroud, Porthcawl RNLI
"The sea was crashing over the sea walls with a tremendous amount of water"
See also:

02 Feb 02 | Wales
Warning of more floods to come
01 Feb 02 | Wales
Storms rage across Wales
01 Feb 02 | Wales
Travel chaos for rugby fans
01 Feb 02 | Northern Ireland
Storms cut power supplies
01 Feb 02 | UK
Storms batter Britain
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