Crews from Foyle, Belfast, Sligo respond to distress signal in Derry today - cause accidental

A major operation on the River Foyle involving rescue crews from Derry, Belfast and the Republic this morning turned out to be accidental and thankfully there was no-one in distress.

By Brendan McDaid
Friday, 21st May 2021, 12:31 pm

Foyle Search & Rescue said the Police Service of Northern Ireland tasked its Emergency Response Team to an activation of an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) on the River Foyle after reports of a strobe light being observed at 3.45am on Friday, May 21.

FSR’s mobile and boat teams responded conducting searches of locations on the river and shore, while Belfast Coastguard activated a land based coastguard mobile unit to the scene and requested air support from Irish Coastguard Helicopter 118.

A FSR spokesperson said: “FSR boat crew in stormy conditions checked several anchored vessels and used thermal imaging during the checks.

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Foyle Search and Rescue file image.

“At 06:00hrs the active EPIRB was traced to an abandoned vessel.

“FSR deployed a Jetski to recover the beacon with safety cover provided by FSR Boat on water with HM Coastguard on shore plus PSNI, ICG Helicopter 118 was now on scene.

“The EPIRB was handed over to Coastguard who ascertained its origins via an ID number.

“All agencies were then satisfied it had been an accidental activation and that no one had entered the water.”

After Belfast Coastguard were updated, a debrief took place and the crews were stood down.

“All FSR vessels were off water at 07:00 hrs. Appreciation to everyone involved,” the spokesperson said.

An EPIRB is a distress alerting device once activated in association with satellites determines the position of a person or vessel alerting the Rescue authorities, FSR clarified.