Kitesurfers have saved the lives of two teenagers who were being swept towards busy shipping lanes after wading into the sea off the Essex coast.
The boy and girl, both 14, were spotted at Shoeburyness on Thursday evening.
The girl could not swim and the coastguard said the pair disappeared under the water at one point.
Three kitesurfers went to their rescue and one pulled them to a sandbank from where they were taken ashore and treated, before being released.
HM Coastguard Southend-on-Sea, said the teenagers had been “wading way out offshore and were spotted by three local kitesurfers” about one mile (1.6km) out near Barge Pier.
The pair were “struggling in the water as they had been caught out by a rip current”, the coastguard wrote on Facebook.
“They were by then being quickly swept out by the tide towards the shipping lanes – with the female casualty not able to swim, her male friend was trying to keep them both above water in the strong currents.
“The kitesurfers briefly lost sight of the two casualties as they had gone under the water, but were extremely lucky to have popped up above the water where they were again sighted, and the kitesurfers quickly went to their rescue just in time before they were lost beneath the water again.”
‘Extremely close call’
One of the kitesurfers managed to get the teenagers onto a sandbank where coastguard crews assessed them.
The pair were beginning to suffer from hypothermia and there were “concerns about secondary drowning” as they had ingested water, they said.
They were guided to shore where they were treated by crews and paramedics before being allowed to go home with their parents.
The coastguard wrote that it would “like to say a big thanks to the three kitesurfers who saved their lives tonight”.
“This was an extremely close call for both casualties and shows the dangers of walking out onto the sandbanks and water channels surrounding them [where] rip currents can sweep you out to sea.”