30 rescued from distressed tall ship in major operation off Cork coast

(The Astrid pictured off Sovereign rock Tuesday. Pic: Zach Barker)

Thirty people have been rescued from a tall ship which ran aground off the south coast of Ireland.

The tall ship Astrid hit rocks off the Sovereign islands near Kinsale, Co Cork, this morning as it attempted to navigate the western entrance to the harbour near the tourist town.

The lifeboat service described it as a major sea and air rescue.

Just before 1pm RNLI crews reported that 18 crew members had been rescued and were on board a lifeboat on their way to shore.

The other 12 crew are also understood to have been rescued and taken on board a second tall ship.

Local lifeboats from Kinsale and Courtmacsherry, two Coast Guard helicopters from Waterford and Shannon, and local coast guard units were involved in the operation just west of Oysterhaven, near Kinsale.

RNLI crews reported that some of those rescued were in a very shocked state and suffering from mild hypothermia.

The Astrid - a 42m sailing training vessel - had been taking on water after striking rocks. Wind conditions in the area are around Force 5 to 6 - stronger than was forecast.

(The ship's last known location. Pic: MarineTraffic.com)

A spokeswoman for the event the boat was taking part in said it had suffered engine failure as it was making its way to Kinsale.

“At 11.50pm the captain of the tall ship Astrid signalled that he had a problem. We stood by, and other boats also stood by. We simply did not have the power to pull the Astrid off the rocks,” she said.

“It was engine failure.”

Other tall ships taking part in the event were Celtic Mist from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, Spirit of Oysterhaven, and boats from Hull, Tollesbury, Shoreham on Sea, Hamble, Portsmouth, Poole, Salcombe in the UK.

The boats were part of The Gathering Cruise which was due to arrive in Kinsale today and continue to the Glandore Classic Boat regatta on Friday. It is one of hundreds of events being held in Ireland in a mass tourism drive to get people with Irish links to visit the country.

Vincent O’Donovan, of the Courtmacsherry RNLI lifeboat, said the Astrid was sinking.

“The rescued crew are certainly all shocked,” he told RTE Radio.

“It’s been a dramatic experience since 12 noon when they went aground and the boat started to sink.”

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