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Marooned rafter found clutching a tree for dear life saved by ‘hero’ kayakers on Bury’s River Irwell

By Dean Wilkins

A marooned rafter was pulled out of the River Irwell, Bury, after becoming stranded due to torrential wind and rain today.

The 55-year-old man was pulled down stream in the fast-flowing river after powerful currents caught him by surprise.

The man’s raft capsized as he clutched to a nearby tree for his life – luckily kayakers saw his terrifying incident and managed to rescue him before firefighters arrived.

Station Manager Kev O’Connor said: “The three kayakers had every piece of equipment going, including ropes, wet suits, helmets and mobile phones, and without them and their equipment the man would almost certainly have died – the water was staggeringly fast.

“When crews arrived, the kayakers were in the water with the man and he was up against the bank, practically unconscious.

“The water rescue team are highly trained and have very strict procedures – they put a team upstream and one downstream to protect the crews, the casualty and the kayakers, then they had a team go down to rescue the casualty and bring him back up the bank.

“He was suffering from hypothermia and some cuts to his legs and was taken to hospital for treatment.”

The torrential wind and rain has battered Greater Manchester since the weekend and flooding has caused widespread disruption across the UK.

The fast currents were caused by an excessive amount of water flowing into the river and the life-threating dangers of rafting should be a warning to others, officers added.

Councillor David Acton, Chair of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “Thankfully, some well-prepared kayakers were brilliant in helping the man and got our crews to the scene quickly and, with the professionalism and training of the firefighters, they were able to rescue this man. We hope he makes a speedy recovery from his ordeal.

“The bad weather this week means that our rivers are deeper and faster flowing than usual and can take even those who are experienced on the water by surprise – we would urge people to stay out of the water in the current conditions.”

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