Hoylake RNLI is warning people to seek local knowledge before exploring the sandbanks of the North Wirral coast after a group of people became lost in dense fog.

The crew of the Hoylake RNLI hovercraft were tasked to search for a group of missing people after shouts for help were heard in dense fog on the North Wirral coast.

The alarm was raised after several 999 calls were made to the UK Coastguard on Halloween.

The four crew of the hovercraft located two people close to the embankment near the old Derby Pool site and returned them to shore.

A further group of five people managed to make their own way to shore.

Information from coastguard rescue officers on scene suggested that those lost in the fog could be a group of five cocklers who were not believed to have any knowledge of the very dangerous local conditions.

The crew of the hovercraft had to make a thorough search of the foreshore and sandbanks in very difficult conditions, liaising with the local coastguard rescue teams.

At times, visibility was down to five metres. The crew were forced to stop the hovercraft’s engines and listen for replies to their loudhailer calls.

Commenting on the rescue, the Hoylake RNLI lifeboat operations manager, Dave Whiteley, said he was grateful to those members of the public who raised the alarm by dialling 999.

“They did the right thing and did not put themselves at risk. It is extremely dangerous to venture out on to the sandbanks without local knowledge,” he said.

“These people went out onto the banks in the dark, in thick fog and with a rising tide,” noted Whiteley. “They were very lucky to come ashore alive.”

“If you want to explore the sandbanks, find out when and where it is safe to go from local RNLI lifeboat stations or lifeguards, Coastguard, sailing clubs or fishermen,” he warned.

“Look for warning notices and follow the advice. Don’t risk your life and the lives of those who may be called on to rescue you,” added the lifeboat operations manager.