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Monday, 23 September, 2002, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Anglers airlifted from capsized boat
The RAF Sea King helicopter
The fishermen were rescued by the RAF helicopter
Two anglers have been airlifted to safety after spending up to 12 hours clinging to the upturned hull of their boat off the Pembrokeshire coast.

With just half an hour of search time left, a helicopter from RAF Chivenor in Devon rescued the men shortly after 0400 BST on Monday after receiving an emergency call five hours earlier.


It didn't appear as if the men were wearing life jackets nor did they have any other kind of safety equipment on board

Angie Smith, Coastguard spokeswoman

The search, which involved the St David's and Angle lifeboats, initially spanned an area of 200 square miles from outside St David's Head to Freshwater East.

Eventually, however, coastguards were able to pinpoint the ailing vessel in what was described as "an excellent rescue".

The men escaped with mild hypothermia and were said to be in "good spirits" as they were taken to Withybush Hospital at Haverfordwest for checks.

Angie Smith, from Milford Haven Coastguards, said the pair had been very fortunate,

"It didn't appear as if the men were wearing life jackets nor did they have any other kind of safety equipment on board," she said.

Extensive search

"Luckily it was a perfect night for a search as there was a full moon and a calm sea, although the temperature did drop to four degrees."

The search itself was very extensive because of the lack of information available to the coastguard.

"We received a call from the wife of one of the men at around 2310 BST on Sunday night after they had failed to return home," said Angie Smith.

"She'd last heard from them at 1530 BST in the afternoon when they were on one of the fishing banks off the Milford coast.

"We based our search on that information but unfortunately some hours had passed since they were at that location and they could have moved or drifted elsewhere.

"As a result we had to search 200 square miles of sea.

"The men were eventually found seven miles south west of St Anne's Head, sitting on the hull of their 16ft boat," she said.

There was added drama because the helicopter was hit by a bird during the search and had to land and have its engine checked.


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