Two women found alive after major air and sea search in Galway

Updated 12:45am

Two women have been found alive after an extensive air and sea search in Galway Bay.

The two young women had set out on stand-up paddleboards from Furbo yesterday evening but failed to return to shore.

RNLI Aran Island and Galway lifeboats, the Irish Coast Guard’s Shannon and Sligo-based helicopters, Doolin and Costello Coast Guard, the Marine Institute and local residents were all involved in the search.

The two women are in their late teens and early twenties, aged 17 and 23.

They are believed to have left Furbo beach at around 8pm on Wednesday, with the alarm being raised several hours later just after 10pm when they had not returned.

The women were wearing buoyancy aids but not wetsuits. Sea conditions were calm at the time but with an offshore north-westerly breeze.

The search area had focused on the inner Galway Bay area and had extended west to Black Head.

The RNLI Aran Island and Galway lifeboats, the Irish Coast Guard’s Shannon and Sligo-based helicopters, and Doolin and Costello Coast Guard have been searching throughout the night for the two women.

The Irish Coast Guard Coordination centre at Valentia said in a statement this morning that it is “currently coordinating an extensive search of Galway Bay”.

“All available air and marine rescue assets are currently being utilised in the search and the Coast Guard are liaising with An Garda Siochana at Salthill in an effort to locate the two missing females. Any sightings or information should be reported to the Coast Guard Marine Rescue Sub-Centre at Valentia on 112 or 999,” it said.

Tides and currents

Galway RNLI operations manager Mike Swan said that crews had been out all night since the alarm was raised, with the search area focused on the inner Galway Bay area and extending west to Black Head.

The Marine Institute ocean sciences staff are working on tide and current modelling to assist the search crews.

The institute, based in Oranmore, has also launched its rigid inflatable to assist the sea search, along with a number of fishing vessels, local and visiting angling and leisure craft.

Residents living close to the coast from Barna west to Spiddal have been asked to check the shoreline near their homes, and shore searches are taking place right around the bay.