Distress signal which sparked Severn search was in East Midlands

By Mark Elson in Local People

A SIGNAL from a distress beacon which led to a search of the River Severn from Aylburton and Lydney towards Gloucester was actually somewhere the other side of Birmingham – and was probably activated accidentally.

Earlier reports suggested that the emergency position radio indicating beacon (EPRIB) was on board a sunken boat in Lydney Harbour but a spokesman for Chepstow Coastguard said that was not correct.

The coastguard and Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA) responded after the signal was detected at around 7.30pm on Tuesday (June 13) by the National Maritime Operations Centre at Fareham in Hampshire which initially alerted the coastguard in Milford Haven to co-ordinate a rescue.

Signals from EPRIB are treated as an immediate threat to life and the search involved personnel from the coastguard at Chepstow and Sharpness, SARA and the coastguard helicopter from St Athan near Cardiff.

The search started at Aylburton and the boat at Lydney was checked over by Chepstow Coastguard.

A spokesman for Chepstow Coastguard said: “Chepstow Coastguard did board the boat but it was disregarded as the source of the beacon signal.”

Distress beacons are tracked by orbiting satellites and the search was stopped when information was received that the source of the signal was in the East Midlands.

The coastguard spokesman said: “It was probably an accidental activation.”

People who buy distress beacons are encouraged to register the device with the appropriate authority as registration includes giving contact details such as mobile phone numbers and radio call signs.

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