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RNLI blames trapped tourists and beach selfies as call-outs double over festive period in four years



Tourists hunting beach selfies on perilous stretches of coast have helped fuel an almost doubling in call-outs to the RNLI over the festive period, it has been claimed. 

The lifeboat charity revealed it is now 600% busier over the Christmas break compared to 40 years ago – with launches also up from 85 in 2014 to 155 in 2018.

Rescue crews have reported the rise appears to be linked to the increasing number of people visiting the coast for a break, who are unfamiliar with the dangers they can face. 

While a common source of call-outs in the 1980s was embattled fishing vessels, lifeboats are now more likely to be deployed to tourists trapped by the tide, the charity said. 

It is believed the rise of social media may have inspired visitors to seek out beauty spots to serve as the backdrop for a family Christmas picture they can post online. 

However, although a large expanse of sand can be alluring as the setting for a festive selfie, the changing tide can leave areas of the beach impassable within minutes. 

“We believe more and more people are staying in the country in the festive period; more and more people are going to the seaside and are not aware of the dangers of the sea,” a spokesman for the RNLI told the Telegraph.

“We had a lot of wind recently and people know that the wind is dangerous, but on a calm winter’s day people think it is nice and safe, they walk around the headland and, figures reveal, there are a lot of people who are not necessarily in the water but are on a cliff edge, walking, something like that.

“With camera phones these days, people go out and want a nice Christmas Day picture, they want a nice family selfie (but find themselves in trouble). 

He added: “Even if you go back five years, cameras with selfies have since come in and then you’ve got all your Instagram and things for your best pictures – everyone has different means and motives for visiting the coast.” 

The RNLI is expecting this Christmas to be just as hectic for its volunteer crews and has launched a fundraising drive to help preserve its future.

Phil Eaglen, a volunteer for the crew in Wells, said: “The RNLI has experienced a shortfall in funds, but we are rescuing more people than ever before.”





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Stranded strike passengers can make claims for hotel costs, South Western Railway confirms



The strikes began after talks between RMT and SWR broke down last week, over whether human guards should operate the opening and closing of train doors.

As the strike got underway passengers complained of “dangerously overcrowded” carriages and “scrums” ensuing as commuters struggled to board trains.

One passenger, Rachel Lonergan, tweeted SWR to say: “The train I was on this morning was dangerously overcrowded with fare-paying passengers feeling very unwell.”

Another, IT manager Karl Lawson, who is waiting for a knee replacement operation, spoke of how he had to bring a foldout chair to aid his commute.

The 59-year-old from Basingstoke said: “It has been very difficult. I need a knee replacement and cannot stand for more than half an hour.

“I had to bring my own chair even though I paid for a seat. I used it on the platform and on the train.

“It is a scrum to get to the train. There is no such thing as politeness. We were told there would be queues but everyone was just fighting to get on the train.”

Other passengers were also asking on social media whether they would be eligible for refunds on their season tickets during the strike.

During previous walkouts, such as on the Northern Rail lines, passengers have been able to claim back a day’s worth of fares if they did not travel due to strike action. 

SWR said that any season ticket holder wanting to make a claim should contact their customer services and those claims would also be “reviewed individually”.





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Australian police find body of man in search for missing British backpacker



Australian police have found a body they believe to be that of Aslan King, a British backpacker who went missing from a campsite at the weekend.

The body has not yet been formally identified, but local authorities believe it is that of King, 25, who has been missing in the state of Victoria since Saturday.

King, an illustrator from Brighton, was last seen at a camping ground in Princetown, on the Great Ocean Road, at about 2am on Saturday. His disappearance prompted an intensive search.

King had been camping with friends near the Twelve Apostles, about three hours southwest of Melbourne, when he suffering a suspected seizure and hit his head, before suddenly running into bushland.

Fearing King – who had been on holiday in Australia – had become disorientated and lost in the bush, police deployed a helicopter, horses, motorcycle riders, specialist rescue teams and volunteers to find him.

“The body was located about 10:15 am this morning in a creek just over a kilometre from the camping ground where Aslan was last seen,” police said.





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