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200 people back on land after sailing dinghies rescue

More than 200 people have been returned to shore after 87 sailing dinghies were hit by stormy weather in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland.

The Bangor and Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Teams, the Portaferry and Newcastle RNLI lifeboats, the Irish Coast Guard helicopter along with the helicopter from RAF Valley were sent to the scene, along with PSNI and ambulance crews.

We have now been told by our rescue units on scene that everyone has safely returned to shore and that no one is missing. We believe 20 people ended up in the water after their boats capsized this afternoon, 10 of them requiring medical attention. The weather conditions on scene have been pretty treacherous, with winds gusting up to 60mph.

– Liam Colquhoun, Watch Manager at Belfast Coastguard.

Some 10 people were injured, with some of them showing signs of hypothermia.

Belfast Coastguard was contacted just before 2pm reporting that some of the boats had capsized, while others were struggling to cope in the strong winds and squally showers.

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Ambulances leave scene of sailing incident

UTV report Judith Hill has just tweeted this image of Strangford Lough, adding that several ambulances have just left the scene.

The South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland said that casualties were being brought to the Ulster Hospital (Dundonald).

Live helicopter tracking reveals region of search

A website tracking the movements of the Coastguard helicopter shows the part of the lough that is being targeted in the search and rescue operation.

Coastguard: 10 people injured in sailing incident

An update from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency says that 10 people have been injured, and that most are showing signs of hypothermia.

The statement continued: "It's believed that all those in the water have been accounted for. However rescue units on scene, including the helicopters and lifeboats, are carrying out further searches to make sure."

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Strangford Lough affected by powerful tides

Strangford Lough is an area affected by powerful tides from the sea. It is a short distance south west of Belfast in Co Down.

Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland Credit: Northern Ireland Tourist Board/PA

It is popular with all sorts of watersports enthusiasts and a dedicated canoe trail has been laid out along its waters.

Strangford Lough is a short distance south west of Belfast in Co Down. Credit: Google Maps

Ambulance service: Some sailors have hypothermia

The ambulance service responding to the incident in Strangford Lough has said that some people are suffering from hypothermia, UTV reporter Aidan Kennedy has tweeted:

Reports: 90-100 people fell into water during storm

UTV Editor Chris Hagan has tweeted that initial reports suggest between 90 and 100 people fell into the water in Strangford Lough, and that the first casualties have arrived on dry land:

Sailors were 'struggling to cope in the strong winds'

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has said it responded to reports that sailors were struggling in the windy conditions, but that it is too early to tell how many people are involved in the incident in Strangford Lough.

A statement on the agency's website said:

The Coastguard is this afternoon coordinating a rescue response after approximately 80 sailing dinghies were hit by stormy weather in Strangford Lough.

Belfast Coastguard was first contacted just before 2pm reporting that some of the boats had capsized, while others were struggling to cope in the strong winds and squally showers.

The Bangor and Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Teams, the Portaferry and Newcastle RNLI lifeboats, the Irish Coast Guard helicopter along with the helicopter from RAF Valley have been sent to the scene.

It is not clear at this time how many people are involved and if there are any injuries. A search and rescue operation is ongoing.

– Maritime and Coastguard Agency
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