Passengers were transferred to nearby vessels as boat began taking on water

48 passengers were rescued from a birdwatching boat after it started to sink off the Pembrokeshire coast.

The Lady Helen was heading from Martin’s Haven to Skomer Island when it hit a rock and ran aground. After sending a mayday call the boat was towed off the rock by sister boat the Dale Princess.

She began to sink as she was returning to port so the 48 passengers were transferred to the nearby boats that also responded to the mayday alarm.

“There were a lot of elderly people and around six children,” said diver Dr Pauling Crossland, who aided the rescue with boat Over Dale. “There was one woman with Multiple Sclerosis who struggled to get off. The water was really beginning to pump through really quite badly.”

Milford Haven Coastguard watch manager Barrie Yelland told BBC Wales: “Everyone has done an excellent job carrying out this rescue, including all the various vessels that responded. Special thanks must go out to the boat Over Dale.”

An investigation has been launched to establish how the Lady Helen, which makes the journey regularly, managed to run aground.