Members of the public are being warned of the dangers of drinking near the coast after two people were swept out to sea in the early hours of today.
Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade issued the warning after being called to Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, to the aid of a 19-year-old man and a woman, 21, who were reported to have been washed off the sea defences at the south end of Whitley Bay.
The Cullercoats RNLI Inshore Lifeboat was also paged. The call came at around 2.30am.
On arrival, crews found that both the man and the woman had managed to make their way back ashore, and were not in a serious condition.
A statement from the Life Brigade said: "After liaising with their colleagues from the Police and Ambulance service, it was established that the male casualty, who was extremely drunk, had been swept into the water with five of his friends attempting to rescue him, but all ending up in harm’s way.
"Thankfully all six, including the man and a female companion who was also swept in, were able to be recovered just as the first emergency units arrived."
The statement continued: "At the time of the incident the sea conditions were horrendous due to the high tide, wind direction and swell – with waves of between 10 and 20 foot breaking off the sea defences.
"Although the Lifeboat was able to launch, both their crew and Brigade members would have had great difficulty, and been in a position of great danger, had they needed to attempt rescue of anyone close inshore at that location.
"We would urge all members of the public to keep their distance from the waters edge when waves are breaking and to totally avoid coastal areas when consuming alcohol."