Diver rescued off Rathlin

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Portrush and Red Bay RNLI have assisted in the rescue of a diver who was missing for two hours off Rathlin Island on Sunday.

Volunteers from Portrush RNLI were alerted at 12.35pm on Sunday afternoon that a man who had been diving off a wreck with a group of others was missing on the east side of Rathlin Island.

The all-weather lifeboat under Coxswain Des Austin launched immediately and made its way to the scene where it became the on scene search coordinator.

Red Bay RNLI meanwhile, was about to start a training exercise with the Prestwick-based Rescue 177 helicopter when both its inshore lifeboat and the helicopter were diverted to assist in the search.

Sligo Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118 was also scrambled to the scene while a number of local boats from Rathlin Island and Ballycastle joined the operation.

Weather conditions at the time were described as cloudy with a Force 4-5 westerly wind blowing and a slight swell of two metres.

The search was underway for approximately two hours when a local vessel located the diver four miles from his original location at approximately 2.30pm.

The casualty was then transferred to the Portrush all-weather lifeboat and then airlifted by Rescue 118 and transferred to Craigavon Area Hospital.

Speaking following the call out, Portrush RNLI Coxswain Des Austin said: “We are so relieved this afternoon that after almost two hours of searching the diver has been located safe and well.

“This was a multi-agency search and rescue effort where the emergency services were assisted greatly by a number of local vessels.

“I would like to commend the diving party for raising the alarm as soon as they noticed one of their group had gone missing and praise the community effort that ensured this man was brought safely back to shore.”