Reports of a possible hot air balloon in distress near Hinkley Point station led to a call-out for a Burnham-On-Sea RNLI lifeboat on Thursday evening (May 27th).
Watchet Coastguards co-ordinated the incident at around 5.35pm after the sighting between Hinkley Point C nuclear power station and Kilve Beach, however after investigation it emerged that no life had been in danger.
“Our team were tasked to a report of a possible Hot Air Balloon in distress and seen dropping in height down into the sea,” said a spokesman for Watchet Coastguard.
“Due to the seriousness of the report and potential for lives in immediate danger our Coastguard maritime rescue coordination centre at Milford Haven tasked immediately the RNLI Lifeboats at Burnham-On-Sea and the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter from St Athan.”
“Whilst the helicopter began a shoreline search from the Hinkley Point end our team began a visual search from the clifftops between Kilve and the Lilstock Range Tower, when we sighted the reflection of something in the water close to the shoreline north west of the tower.”
“This was communicated to the helicopter and lifeboat which were closing in on the area, and it was soon confirmed by the helicopter as being our potential target, but instead of being a hot air balloon, it was a series of birthday helium balloons.”
“These balloons were recovered by the lifeboat crew to ensure no further reports, whilst our team undertook a continued visual search from the clifftops with the height advantage, and the helicopter a wider search further out to sea to double check there was no other items in the water.”
“This was a call with good intent, as from the distance that the first informant had seen the balloons falling from the sky, it would have been easily mistaken as a hot air balloon.”
“On such a beautiful evening it would have been the perfect evening to have seen hot air balloons in the sky.”
“The informant did exactly the right thing and within seconds of calling 999 and asking for the Coastguard, rescue teams, Lifeboats & Rescue Helicopters were being despatched to the area. Remember in a coastal emergency to dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”