THREE stranded sightseers had to be airlifted off Cramond island in a dramatic rescue after being cut off by the tide.
The two women and one man, believed to be in their 20s, ran into difficulties at around 2.30pm on Saturday.
Choppy waters and 40-knot winds prevented an RNLI boat from reaching the island off the coast of Edinburgh, so two rescuers leapt ashore to check on the three while the coastguard helicopter was scrambled.
“The boat tried several times to get close but the weather wasn’t good enough for it to get to the island,” said amateur photographer Ally Milne, 50, from Falkirk, who watched it unfold.
“As I was walking back to my car, the helicopter flew over. There was a guy who said he used to be involved in the coastguard who said it’s the first ever time a helicopter rescued someone from there.”
Concerned daytrippers watched from the shore as the pilot skilfully landed on the craggy rocks before the South Queensferry RNLI rescuers escorted the three to safety.
One of the three suffered a minor toe injury but they were otherwise unharmed by their ordeal.
They raised the alarm themselves in a mobile phone call to the Scottish Ambulance Service before the RNLI were notified and then the coastguard.
“They must’ve been cold because they had jackets on but one was wearing a skirt and no socks,” added Mr Milne.
The helicopter from Prestwick ferried the three, believed to be two foreign students and a local, along with the two RNLI rescuers to the shore before setting them down.
“Two crew members were put ashore to make contact with the casualties and make sure they were ok,” said an RNLI spokeswoman.
“The boat tried on three separate occasions at three separate places to get close to the island but couldn’t do it safely enough.”
In 2010, about 500 revellers had to be rescued from the island after making the crossing for a party organised on social media.
And in 2015, three people were rescued by lifeboat after being cut off by rising tides in the Firth of Forth.
A spokesman for HM Coastguard urged anyone visiting Cramond to be aware of tides and to call for help if they get stranded.
“There are signs down there and there’s information online,” he added. “It’s important to check the crossing times because there’s potential you can end up having to spend the night on the island if you get it wrong.
“It’s being aware of the times and if you get cut-off then phone. Don’t try to come back across because it’s dangerous when you can’t see where you’re going.”
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