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Grandparents and young children rescued from rising tide on Norfolk beach which has seen 'several fatalities'

PUBLISHED: 11:58 02 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:36 02 August 2019

Two people have been rescued after being cut off by the tide at Brancaster. Photo: Clifford Hicks

Two people have been rescued after being cut off by the tide at Brancaster. Photo: Clifford Hicks

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A family of holidaymakers including a grandmother in her seventies and five children were rescued from the rising tide at a beach which has seen several fatalities.

An aerial shot of the Hunstanton RNLI hovercraft. Photo: Hunstanton RNLIAn aerial shot of the Hunstanton RNLI hovercraft. Photo: Hunstanton RNLI

The group of four adults and five children became cut off by the rising tide on the wreck sands at Brancaster earlier today (Thursday, August 1) in an incident which was deemed the most serious of the summer so far.

And the area they were saved from has been described as "an accident waiting to happen" by a member of the lifeboat team which saw them to safety.

The group, thought to be a family of holidaymakers, was made up of two parents, two grandparents - including a grandmother in her seventies - and five children all aged under 11 years old, but not thought to all be related.

They were rescued by the Hunstanton RNLI hovercraft after the UK Coastguard was alerted at 4pm to reports of people cut off by the tide.

Lifeboat spokesman Geoff Needham said: "The coastguard went down there and people were out on the wreck sands with the tide filling up the channels.

"They requested the hovercraft so we sent that up and there was a group of people on the sands with the tide coming in."

Mr Needham, who has worked in search and rescue at Hunstanton for 40 years, added: "The spring tides are starting up again and it does come in at a rate of knots.

"They were told to stay where they were and a rescue boat would be coming to them.

"It could have been very different."

Mr Needham said he believed the group to be a family, and added: "[The children] were a range of ages, from young ones to 10 to 11-year-olds.

"I think they were holidaymakers - they were not Brancaster people. They could have been from one of the villages."

And he said the area they were saved from has seen several deaths over the years, including the drowning of a nine-year-old boy.

"The problem is you've got these two channels that come in from both sides," he said.

"The wreck sands in between them become an island and it is a deep channel.

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"We have had several fatalities over the years over the years.

"The water does flood to several feet - at least ten feet - deep."

He added: "There have been several drownings over the years - it is an accident waiting to happen.

"We had a young boy, a nine-year-old, drowned down there.

"We do treat it very seriously."

An RNLI spokesperson said: "The UK Coastguard requested the launch of Hunstanton's RNLI hovercraft to reports of persons cut off by the rising tide on the wreck sands, at Brancaster.

"On arrival at Brancaster, nine people were on the wreck sands, four adults and five children.

"They told the crew they had not realised the state of the tide, which was filling the channel between them and the safety of the beach.

"They were taken aboard the hovercraft and transferred to the beach, into the care of the local coastguard response team.

"It took two journeys to evacuate them from the sands."

They added: "This was the most serious incident of the holiday season to date."

The RNLI also reminded holiday makers of the advice of their Respect the Water campaign, and said: "Tidal waters have strong tidal currents, especially the approaches to the harbours.

"Check the weather and tide times and read signs.

"Be aware of local hazards, i.e. sand banks, channels and strong tidal currents.

"Carry a means of calling for help.

"If you see someone in danger dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard who will page us."

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