Two people were rescued this afternoon after their boat collided with the bridge that connects Killaloe, Co Clare and Ballina in Tipperary.
The alarm was raised shortly after midday when watch officers at the Irish Coast Guard’s marine rescue sub centre on Valentia Island in Kerry received a report of a boat in difficulty at the lower end of Lough Derg.
While a multi-agency operation was being mounted, a radio message was also transmitted on the local Coast Guard frequency requesting any vessel in the area to report back.
A boat travelling south from the lake towards the bridge at Killaloe and Ballina collided with the easterly most archway of the structure. The boat became wedged beneath the bridge and held in place by a strong current. There were two persons on board.
The Killaloe unit of the Irish Coast Guard; Killaloe Fire Service and National Ambulance Service were all alerted and requested to attend the scene.
The Shannon-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter, Rescue 115, was also tasked to the incident. The helicopter was returning to Shannon from University Hospital Galway when the crew was retasked to Killaloe. Rescue 115 reached the scene in a matter on minutes.
Local Coast Guard volunteers mobilised to the scene by boat and by road and on arrival found the vessel lying across the bridge archway. The two people on board were evacuated onto the Coast Guard boat and taken safely ashore. Rescue 115 hovered in the area until it was confirmed that the two men were safe and well before the helicopter was stood down.
Efforts to remove the boat from the archway initially proved difficult as the strong river current hindered the process. A second attempt, involving members of Killaloe Fire Service and the local Coast Guard unit were successful. The boat was removed from the bridge and moored safely nearby.
The boat suffered some damage however the two occupants were unharmed.