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Warning after beacon signal sparks major hunt

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By Rod Edgar
Dumfries and West

HELICOPTERS from Northern Ireland were scrambled to the skies above Dumfries on Wednesday evening — after an emergency beacon alert.

And a warning has now been issued about the proper disposal of these emergency devices, which send signals from stricken ships, after the alert was finally traced to one dumped in an industrial estate in the town.

HM Coastguard senior coastal operations officer Stewart Bryden said: “That was an EPIRB, an emergency beacon signal, that was activated over Dumfries.”

Speaking yesterday, he added: “It was located in Lochside Industrial Estate this morning.

“These people are absolutely stupid. Rather than do it the right way to get rid of them they throw them into bins, the alarm goes off, and then it sends signals all over the world to say someone’s in distress.
“So then we obviously have to be hunting for them.

“We located the beacon this morning and it’s deactivated, and that’s all good with that one.”

An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) is commonly used on board ships.
If a ship overturns, the beacon is automatically activated — sending out the global alert.

Police Scotland state that Belfast Coastguard were alerted to a beacon going off in the Newbridge area of Dumfries.

A spokesman said: “They scrambled two helicopters and with assistance from local coastguard staff couldn’t find the location.”

He adds that the helicopter crews became satisfied that no one was in distress, but then efforts continued yesterday  in a bid to find the beacon which was still activating.

Reports of the helicopters in the skies above Dumfries quickly spread on social media, sparking claims that the hunt was on for someone who had entered The River Nith.


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