The RNLI has warned of the dangers of taking to the water in poor weather conditions following an incident on Lough Derg yesterday.
Two people were airlifted to hospital after a massive launched when a kayak was reported to have capsized in rough conditions on Lough Derg.
The major multi-agency search and rescue operation was mounted at around 2.30pm when the Irish Coast Guard received a report of a overturned kayak near Holy Island off Mountshannon, Co Clare.
Winds were reported to be force 6 to 7 in strength at times while there were squally showers and poor visibility in the area at the time.
The Killaloe unit of the Irish Coast Guard along with the Shannon based search and rescue (SAR) Rescue 1-1-5, were quickly alerted and requested to proceed to the area.
As the Killaloe Coast Guard rescue boat made its way to the scene, other volunteers travelled to the area by road so that they could undertake shoreline searches if needed.
The Lough Derg RNIL lifeboat, based at Dromineer on the opposites side of the lake, was also alerted along with An Garda and the National Ambulance Service.
At the time the operation was mounted, by the Irish Coast Guard marine rescue coordination centre at Valentia Island in Kerry, there was no clear indication how many persons could be in the water.
Two kayakers managed to make their way towards the shore at Mountshannon where they were spotted by locals and helped ashore. It’s believed they may have had to swim up to a kilometre to reach safety however it’s not known how long they were in the water.
Both were said to be suffering from hypothermia and were ‘shaken’ but otherwise uninjured. They were cared for at the scene by locals until rescue teams and paramedics arrived.
The pair were checked by HSE paramedics before being transported to a nearby field where the helicopter had landed. They were airlifted to Limerick University Hospital for treatment.
The search was only stood down when it was confirmed that there were no other persons missing.
A Coast Guard spokesman said: “Two people were airlifted to University Hospital Limerick because they appeared to be suffering from hypothermia. They managed to make it to shore themselves and were assisted by some locals until emergency services arrived.”
Lough Derg RNLI Deputy Launching Authority Brian Hanly warned: “It is crucial the public check the weather forecast before going afloat and to remember the water is very cold at this time of year’.
In June 2013, 35 people were rescued after a flotilla of rowing boats taking part in an international competition capsized in poor weather conditions on Lough Derg.
Winds that day reached force 5 to 6 and while some boats opted not to take part in the event, 18 left Terryglass in Tipperary shortly before the incident.
Meanwhile, on returning to their station, the RNLI lifeboat crew was alerted to another incident.
A distressed member of the public requested assistance as he believed his horse might have strayed into the Nenagh River. The crew launched once again and raced to investigate, but did not locate the horse either in, or on the bank of the river.