Date Published : June 6th, 2015 Published By : admin
A multi-agency, cross border emergency rescue operation was underway this afternoon when two canoes capsized, leaving twenty-six people in the water.
The incident occurred on the River Foyle between Magheramason in County Tyrone and Carrigans in County Donegal at around 2pm today. EmergencyTimes.com understands the canoes were taking part in a fundraising event for the YMCA.
A Major Incident was declared shortly after the initial call was received.
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, Northern Ireland Fire & rescue Service, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, HSE National Ambulance Service and the Irish Coast Guard were among those involved in the rescue operation with the Coleraine Coastguard Rescue Team and Foyle Search and Rescue.
Six people were airlifted to Londonderry's Altnagelvin Hospital where they are being treated for mild hypothermia.
Another 12 were taken by ambulance while the rest were treated at the scene.
It is understood there was a heavy swell in windy conditions and both canoes began to take in water.
John McPoland, from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, said: "All services sprung into action very quickly and thankfully everybody was taken from the water. What we've found today is that our capacity to respond to such an incident was severely tested for all emergency services and it's a tribute to all the services involved that they were able to pull together so quickly and ensure there was no tragedies involved in today's incident."
As news of the rescue spread, the Northern Ireland emergency services kept the public updated through their twitter pages.
The Western Health and Social Care Trust confirmed 17 people attended Altnagelvin's Emergency Department following the incident. A spokesperson said the casualties have been treated for hypothermia.
Emergency Times understands nine people didn't require hospital treatment.
In a statement, the PSNI said emergency services attended the scene following a report that a number of people were in the water on the River Foyle."Police were alerted to the call shortly before 2pm this afternoon. A number of people were taken to hospital by helicopter for treatment as a result of the incident and the remainder received treatment by Ambulance staff at Prehen Boat House."
SDLP MLA for Foyle Mark H Durkan, who attended the scene, said: “It’s my understanding that a couple of boats have capsized while on the river Foyle this afternoon and 26 people have been rescued from the water.
“It has been a cold day and the water in the river would have been freezing. Coupled with the strong current and high tide it is extremely fortunate that we did not witness a tragedy here today.”