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Family swept away by sea at Hunstanton ‘minutes from tragedy’

PUBLISHED: 14:50 09 August 2017 | UPDATED: 15:53 09 August 2017

Hunstanton beach. Picture: Ian Burt

Hunstanton beach. Picture: Ian Burt

A family swept away by the sea were minutes from tragedy, says a lifeboat official.

Hunstanton beach. Picture: Ian Burt Hunstanton beach. Picture: Ian Burt

A father and his two young daughters were carried away as the incoming tide covered a sandbank off Hunstanton Beach on Tuesday afternoon. The girls, aged eight and 12, clung to their dad as they were swept towards Heacham by the fast-flowing current.

Fortunately, they were carried into shallower water and made it safely to dry land.

An East of England Ambulance spokesman said the alarm was raised at 3.20pm by a bystander, adding: “A rapid response vehicle was sent and the patients were assessed on scene as not requiring treatment or transport to hospital.”

MORE: Two young girls and their father swept away by the sea after being cut off by the tide at Hunstanton

Hunstanton beach. Picture: Ian Burt Hunstanton beach. Picture: Ian Burt

Geoff Needham, from Hunstanton lifeboat, which was launched to rescue the family, said: “A few more minutes and it could have been far more serious.”

Mr Needham said the crew had launched more than 20 times this summer to people who had been cut off - usually when so-called spring tides left vast expanses of beach, rapidly become flooded when the tide turns.

William Searle, of Searles Seatours, witnessed the incident from his Wash Monster vessel.

“I spotted them on the way back from a seal safari,” he said. “I said to the crew to keep an eye on them because they looked like they were struggling. They made it ashore but they looked exhausted.”

Beach goers enjoying the sunshine in Hunstanton. Picture: Ian Burt Beach goers enjoying the sunshine in Hunstanton. Picture: Ian Burt

Mr Searle, whose family has run boat trips from Hunstanton for generations, said more should be done to warn visitors.

“On big tides, when we’ve got this many holidaymakers about we should have people going along warning about the dangers,” he said.

The beach where the incident happened is managed by West Norfolk council. A spokesman said: We have numerous signs in place warning people about the groynes and about tidal cut offs at the sand banks. We want people to enjoy this beautiful beach, but would urge them to be mindful of the tides to avoid being stranded on the sand banks.”

The EDP has launched a Summer of Swimming campaign to encourage more people to take up swimming, highlight safety in the water and fight for better facilities.

What more could be done to warn of the dangers of the tides on our beaches? E-mail chris.bishop@archant.co.uk.

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