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Medway coastguard team in search after 'flare' alert

Medway Coastguard. Library image.
Medway Coastguard. Library image.

Coastguard teams carried out extensive searches of the River Medway on bonfire night after several reports of red distress flare sightings in the area.

The Thames Coastguard team say they received multiple reports of red distress flare sightings, mainly centred around the River Medway and lower Thames area during the evening.

The crew say it is not unusual for people to mistake fireworks for flares, but the reports were mainly from coastguard officers on patrol, and members of the maritime community, so their sightings were considered very reliable.

Thorough searches of the areas were carried out by Medway, Sheppey and by the Southend Coastguard teams, but nothing untoward was found.

A spokesman for Thames Coastguard, added: “Marine distress flares have a limited shelf life, and are potentially hazardous and difficult to dispose of when that time has expired.

“The sightings of flares therefore could possibly be attributed to members of the public taking advantage of the date to deploy time expired flares either maliciously or as a cost-effective method of disposal.

However, a red flare is considered to be a maritime distress signal on every day of the year, therefore appropriate search action was taken to ensure no persons or vessels were in difficulty.”

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