Region sizzles in the sun

Sam EmanuelEast Anglia sizzled in the sunshine yesterday on one of the hottest days of the year so far.Crowds flocked to the coast to make the most of the weather, but the day could so nearly have ended in tragedy.Sam Emanuel

East Anglia sizzled in the sunshine yesterday on one of the hottest days of the year so far.

Crowds flocked to the coast to make the most of the weather, but the day could so nearly have ended in tragedy.

Mario Siano, watch manager at Yarmouth Coastguard, said: 'This has been our busiest day of the year by far. We have dealt with over 50 incidents and have saved up to 15 people from drowning.'

Coastguard rescue teams, RNLI lifeboats and an RAF helicopter were out all day searching for and rescuing people. They helped nine swimmers in difficulty, four stranded motorboats and numerous people cut off by the tide.

They also came to the aid of people blown offshore in inflatables, separated from children or needing medical assistance for weaver fish stings.

'Several of our incidents have involved missing children. About 12 of them were missing at sea, so obviously we were very concerned for their safety and sent lifeboats and a helicopter to look for them,' said Mr Siano.

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'There were also a number missing on the beaches. Happily all of them were reunited with family and friends.

'It is easy for children who may be playing in the sea or even on the beach to become disorientated. We really want everyone to enjoy our lovely coastline in the summer, so we are asking people to make sure that they know where their children are and that they know where their adults are.'

He said coastguards had discovered several abandoned inflatable dinghies while attending other calls.

'Every time that we find one, we have to search for the owners in case they have gone overboard. I'm pleased to say that we have managed to trace them all.

'My message is simple: if there is an offshore wind, keep dinghies and inflatable toys in the swimming pool, not at sea.'

East Anglia was one of the hottest places outside London with temperatures reaching 29C (84F) at Marham, and 28C (82F) at Weybourne and Morley, near Wymondham.

John Law, of WeatherQuest, based at the University of East Anglia, said: 'It's been one of the hottest days of the year - possibly the hottest.'

He said the hot weather was due to continue, with temperatures of 26C and 27C (79F and 80F) forecast today, albeit with the possibility of rain during the middle part of the day.

On Friday, temperatures are likely to dip to the low 20s, before picking up to about 24C (75F) on Saturday and the mid-20s on Sunday.

Great Yarmouth's Pleasure Beach was among the attractions that prospered in the sunshine. Managing director Albert Jones said visitor numbers were up by 10pc on the same period last year.

'I think it's down to a combination of many things: good weather; the economic climate, which is leading some people to holiday locally rather than abroad; and what Great Yarmouth has to offer.

'My job's done when we see people with smiling faces, enjoying themselves. We're now reaping the benefits of all the work that has taken place on the seafront.

'Now's the time that people are realising they should perhaps take a second look at Great Yarmouth. We're now one of the top two or three seaside resorts in the country.'

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