Hoax call puts lifeboat crew in danger off Co Down coast

Two RNLI lifeboats in Newcastle, Co Down, were launched in rough weather at 9am this morning following a hoax call.

The search for a man who had reportedly entered the sea after his dog and had got into difficulty was stood down at 10.30am after the coastguard declared it to be a hoax call.

A member of Newcastle's Lifeboat crew out in the rough seas today. Pic: RNLI

Both lifeboats had battled bad weather and rough seas to search for the man around a mile north east of Newcastle lifeboat station in county Down.

Also on scene were members of the Kilkeel and Newcastle shore-based coastguard teams and two helicopters from the Irish Coast Guard and the PSNI.

The stormy seas that faced Newcastle's Lifeboat crew today. Pic: RNLI

Newcastle RNLI Deputy Launching Authority Captain Joseph Mc Clelland said: "There was a heavy breaking surf in the area with a strong south westerly wind blowing force seven and two metre swells. The lifeboats were on scene within minutes and the volunteer lifeboat crew searched in very challenging weather.

"We have since learned that the call for help was believed by the coastguard to have been a hoax and while we are relieved that no one is hurt we are disappointed that anyone would call out the emergency services on a day like today, knowing it to be a hoax.

"They could have put people’s lives at risk and diverted necessary search and rescue assets away from other work."

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