Three sailors rescued on tiny island after night out

Three sailors who became stranded on Flat Holm in the Bristol Channel after leaving a ship to go drinking have been found safe.

A major search and rescue operation involving a Coastguard helicopter and five RNLI lifeboats was sparked after the men were reported missing in the early hours of Thursday.

The three men, who are Russian, Dutch and Philippine nationals, had left the Russian cargo ship Alana Evita, anchored two miles (3.2km) off Minehead in Somerset.

They launched the vessel’s 13ft (4m) rigid-hulled inflatable boat and successfully navigated eight miles (12.8km) of the Bristol Channel and made their way to Barry in South Wales.

But after leaving the seaside town at 3.45am, the alarm was raised after they failed to return to the ship by 7am.

The three sailors were found “very cold” and wet by Penarth lifeboat crew after getting lost on their way back in foggy conditions.

When they safely arrived at Barry Dock lifeboat station, they only wanted to say: “We are safe and we just want to thank the friendly people here.”

An RNLI Lifeboat spokesman said: “Five lifeboats from Minehead, Burnham-on-Sea, Barry Dock and Penarth were launched, together with a Coastguard helicopter.

“But shortly before 8.30am the men and their boat were spotted on Flat Holm island, four miles (6.4km) off the Welsh coast.”

A coastguard helicopter and five lifeboats went searching for the sailors
A coastguard helicopter and five lifeboats went searching for the sailors. Pic: RNLI

The Maritime Coastguard Agency said the trio were found after an “extensive search involving the Coastguard and rescue helicopter from St Athan, Barry and Watchet coastguard rescue teams, and five RNLI lifeboats”.

It added: “The crew were found on Flat Holm, an island in the Bristol Channel, at around 8.50am this morning, by the Barry RNLI lifeboat and have been taken back to Barry.”

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An RNLI spokeswoman also told Sky News that the lifeboat crews “do not judge those they are called on to rescue, or what brought them into danger”.

A South Wales Police spokesman said they were “assisting” the men.

Flat Holm, the limestone island located around four miles (6km) from Lavernock Point in the Vale of Glamorgan, is distinctive because of its lighthouse which was built after treacherous conditions surrounding the island lead to a number of shipwrecks.

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