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July 14, 2006
Burnham lifeboats and helicopter in search for missing dinghy sailor

One of the lifeboats launching from Burnham-On-Sea on Thursday night (July 13th)

An RAF helicopter joined Burnham-On-Sea's lifeboats in a major search of the coastline at Brean on Thursday night (July 13th) after an empty rubber dinghy was found upturned at the water's edge.

The town's two lifeboats - Global Marine and the Staines Whitefield - were called at 9.20pm to assist Coastguards from Burnham in a full torchlight search at Brean, near Warren Farm.

A member of the public had reported seeing a person walk towards the sea with a rubber dinghy at Brean beach near Warren Farm. The witness raised the alarm when he noticed the empty dinghy being blown about by the wind soon afterwards.

An RAF helicopter joined the searchFearing that a casualty was lost at sea, Swansea Coastguard called out Burnham Coastguards and the two lifeboats to conduct a search.

When no-one was found, a helicopter from Chivenor in Devon was also called (see video) in to conduct an infra-red and torch-lit search of the sea.

The search was called off at 11.10pm by Swansea Coastguard control after all participants had conducted lengthy search patterns with no results.

Burnham-On-Sea Coastguard Officer Steve Bird told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "We were quite relieved not to find someone in the water due to the length of time they would have been in the sea. The water is still cold at this time of year."

"But it still leaves open the question of what did happen. Did the dinghy get blown there from a nearby holiday camp or did something else happen? That said, we're confident we carried out a thorough search of the area."

Burnham Lifeboat Press Officer Mike Lang added: "Although the search proved fruitless, this was an excellent example of all services working together as a co-ordinated team. In fact, Burnham lifeboat station received a congratulary phone call from Swansea Coastguard Control thanking it for its efforts."


Video of helicopter search during this incident

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