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River rescue teams call for end to lifebelt vandalism

Thursday, 23 February 2017

River rescue teams call for end to lifebelt vandalism thumbnailOne of the lifebelts which had been thrown into the River Mourne and subsequently recovered by Strabane Community Rescue Service last week.

LOCAL community and rescue teams have issued an appeal to vandals to stop targeting lifebelts along the town's river.

Both Strabane Community Rescue Service (CSR) and Mourne River Search and Rescue (MRSAR) have warned that the culprits are putting lives in danger by interfering with the life-saving equipment.

Last Wednesday, Strabane CSR members retrieved one of the discarded rings from the River Mourne close to Eden Terrace.

Taking to social media to highlight the problem, a spokesperson said: "(It's) a real pity that this is still happening. Too late folks when something happens!"

Later that same evening, volunteers from MRSAR retrieved the same lifebelt from the same stretch of river.

It has previously warned that the life-saving riverside equipment is being thrown into the river at least twice weekly.

They have also issued a warning to the public of risks of trying to retrieve the equipment themselves following reports that in recent weeks that people have been entering the water to retrieve discarded belts and throw lines.

In an appeal posted on its Facebook page on Wednesday, a spokesperson for MRSAR said the lifebelts are being routinely vandalised.

The spokesperson said those who are interfering with the equipment must understand that their actions could have tragic and fatal consequences for others.

"Within the past hour, after a report from a member of the public, members of our water team retrieved a lifebelt from the river across from Eden Terrace.

"This is the second lifebelt to be retrieved today (Wednesday). At around 3.30pm members of the Community Rescue Service also pulled a lifebelt out of the river behind Supervalu. 

"It really is only a matter of time before someone loses their life due to the foolish actions of a few individuals. 

"If the people responsible for interfering with this life-saving equipment are reading this, please, please leave the lifebelts alone. The next time they are needed it could be to save your friend or a family member," the spokesperson said.

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