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Rescues by Scots lifeboat crews reach record level

SCOTLAND'S lifeboat crews rescued a record number of people in 2012.

They dealt with emergencies ranging from endangered fishing boats to walkers cut off by the tide and broken down jet-skiers.

A total of 1055 people were rescued by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution's volunteers last year – 29 more than the previous high of 1026 in 2006.

Lifeboats launched from the country's 46 stations on 1008 occasions and overall the crews spent the equivalent of 643 days on service and on exercise.

The busiest station for the second consecutive year was Broughty Ferry, near Dundee, with 103 launches and 37 people rescued.

Queensferry, beside the Forth Bridge, launched 66 times and rescued 163 people, the highest among Scotland's inshore stations.

Last year was notable for a large number of rescues during darkness, with 386 "shouts" undertaken at night.

While the number of fishing vessels requiring help fell from 143 in 2011 to 122 last year, people on land requiring help rose, from 142 to 226.

This includes people stuck on an island, cliff, rocks, mud and shoreline. People cut off by the tide doubled from 35 to 72.

Arbroath was the sixth-busiest station with 41 launches, a rise of 10 on the previous year.

The launches included the rescue of two jet-skiers who spent more than two hours with a broken jet-ski in freezing waters in late November.

Daylight was fading fast when the Arbroath crew heard the men whistling and shouting for help.

Gavin Smith and Ben Thomson, two fathers from Dundee, returned to the station to thank the crew.

Mr Thomson said: "I just want to express my thanks to the crew as without them I don't know if I would be here today."

Meanwhile, Anstruther lifeboat was at sea for 628 hours on emergency calls.

The RNLI's newest Scottish station, at Leverburgh on Harris, was called out on emergencies on 11 occasions and rescued 25 people, including two youngsters, after opening on a trial basis in May.

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