A total of 20 sailors ended up in the water following the incident on Monday afternoon

More than 200 sailors have returned safely to shore after a fleet of boats racing on Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland were hit by a

storm.

A total of 87 dinghies were taking part in the GP14 world championship races from

East Down Yacht Club, with several being overturned following the bad weather earlier this afternoon.

A rescue operation was quickly underway to help

those involved, including children, and Ulster Hospital in Belfast declared

a major incident.

Belfast Coastguard said the

sailing dinghies were hit by a sudden squall amid 60mph winds.


20 sailors ended up in the water with 10 of them suffering injuries, most showing signs of hypothermia.

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 all sent to the scene

around 2pm and everyone has now been accounted for.

Belfast Coastguard watch manager Liam

Colquhoun, said:

“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. We’re very thankful that everyone has now returned to shore safe and

well.”