Men ‘lucky to be alive’ after dredging pontoon sinks

The view from a sand barge after a dramatic rescue on Lough Neagh
The view from a sand barge after a dramatic rescue on Lough Neagh

Two men are ‘lucky to be alive’ after a dredging pontoon sank on Lough Neagh this morning.

The dramatic rescue saw two life boats from Lough Neagh Rescue at Kinnego and Ardboe dash to the area where the two men were spotted.

Ambulances at the scene at Ballyronan Marina treating two men after a serious incident on Lough Neagh

Ambulances at the scene at Ballyronan Marina treating two men after a serious incident on Lough Neagh

It is understood the two casualties were traveling to a dredging location at the south end of the Lough when their pontoon vessel sank.

A sand barge and a two local fisherman arrived to help the men and Lough Neagh Rescue were despatched at 10am.

One local coastguard said: “I believe the men were in the water for some time. They are very lucky to be alive.”

Two crews from Lough Neagh Rescue - from Kinnego and Ardboe - brought the men to Ballyronan harbour where two ambulances were waiting for them.

Ambulances at the scene at Ballyronan Marina treating two men after a serious incident on Lough Neagh

Ambulances at the scene at Ballyronan Marina treating two men after a serious incident on Lough Neagh

Sean Rocks, Chairman of Lough Neagh Rescue said the incident happened close to Skaddy North just east of Ballyronan.

When Lough Neagh Rescue arrived one man had been pulled onto the sand barge and another was clinging to the side of the sand barge.

He praised the quick actions of the sand barge crew in letting off two flares which helped rescue boats earmark where they were.

Both casualties were transferred to the Ardboe lifeboat and were suffering from hypothermia.

Two ambulances and a Flood Response Unit were tasked to Ballyronan Marina to attend the casualties.

Mr Rocks said Kinnego Life Boat were tasked to assess the scene of the area where the vessel had sank.

He explained that the dredging pontoon had a digger attached.

He said Kinnego crew helped removed two large tanks to make the area safe.

“These men were lucky. Without the quick actions of the sand boat and fisherman, it could have been more serious,” he said.