Rescue drama as life-saving crew alerted to missing boat
A MAJOR search and rescue operation was launched off Aberavon Beach after a boat failed to return — the second time it had got into trouble within the space of a month.
Lifeboat crews from Port Talbot and Porthcawl scoured the water along the length of the beach while Coastguard volunteers searched the shoreline.
Eventually the boat was found stranded near the River Afan, with no navigation lights and with no radio or safety equipment on board.
Port Talbot RNLI spokesman Mel Cooper said the lifeboats were launched at 9.30pm on Wednesday. The boat had been launched from the River Afan hours earlier and the alarm was raised when someone noticed the vehicle and trailer were still there, but with no sign of the boat.
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Mr Cooper said: "We searched the sea around Aberavon Beach as far as the River Neath, while the Port Talbot Coastguard searched along the shore.
"The operation was carried out using parachute flares and searchlights.
"Eventually, after about an hour and a quarter, the vessel was found at the entrance to the River Afan."
Mr Cooper said it was the second time the lifeboat had been called out to help the boat, as it had become grounded on the River Neath training wall in September.
"They not only had no lights when we found them on Wednesday night, they had no safety equipment and no radio," he added. "They did have a mobile phone with them but did not use it. They were foreign nationals and I don't think they spoke much English.
"If you are going to sea, it is vital you have the correct equipment in case anything goes wrong."