Five plucked to safety off Exmouth

Five people were airlifted to hospital suffering from hypothermia after their boat capsized off Exmouth on Sunday morning

Five people rescued from an upturned rowing boat sea off Exmouth on Sunday were taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia.

The coastguard rescue helicopter plucked three people from the water shortly after 11am after several members of the public called the emergency services.

Two members of the stricken group were rescued by the Exmouth inshore lifeboat crew.

Brixham Coastguard watch manager Andy Huber urged anyone taking to the water to wear a lifejacket – especially when winter water temperatures made staying afloat difficult.

He said: “The water temperature that day was twelve degrees Celsius with choppy seas, and in conditions like these it is not long before hypothermia sets in and without a lifejacket you will find it difficult to keep afloat.

“Although we understand that some people can find lifejackets restrictive when undertaking sports such as rowing, there are a wide variety of different lifejackets designed for rowing and other sports.”

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The two men and three women, from Exmouth Rowing Club, capsized near Pole Sands.

The Portland Coastguard helicopter, on exercise off Sidmouth, picked up one of the men and two of the women while the RNLI crew rescued the remaining rowers.

An Exmouth RNLI spokeswoman said: “The casualties had been in the cold waters for around ten minutes and were all suffering the effects of cold.

“The coastguard helicopter landed briefly at the end of the boathouse ramp to pick up the other two casualties and transferred them all to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

“The police, the rapid response vehicle and local coastguards were also in attendance.”

The Exmouth inshore lifeboat crew recovered the rowing boat back the station before towing the vessel to the rowing club.

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