The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) again appealed to the public not to set off Chinese lanterns, following yet another false alarm early on Sunday morning.
“Chinese lanterns floating in the sky can present a similar appearance to distress flares,” NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon said.
Eye-witness reports of distress flares sighted off-shore around the coastline required the NSRI and emergency services to launch a full-scale search and rescue operation without hesitation, and even when the sighting may later be confirmed to have been Chinese lanterns, a search operation could continue for quite some time until it could be absolutely confirmed that no persons or craft at sea may be in any difficulty, he said.
NSRI Bakoven duty crew were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) shortly after midnight following eye-witnesses reporting suspected distress flares fired in succession off-shore of Bantry Bay.
At least eight (what was thought to be) distress flares were reported by various eye-witnesses along the Atlantic seaboard, sighted off-shore of Bantry Bay, Lambinon said.
“While the NSRI Bakoven duty crew responded to the Bakoven sea rescue base to prepare sea rescue craft to be launched, NSRI spotters were dispatched to Bantry Bay to investigate, and the eye-witnesses were interviewed and it was confirmed that the suspected distress flares sighted off-shore of Bantry Bay were Chinese lanterns.
“It remains unknown who set off these Chinese lanterns in that area or for what reason.”
The eye-witnesses were commended for alerting the NSRI to what may very well have been distress flares because the appearance of Chinese lanterns was similar to distress flares when deployed into the sky.
To rule out all possibilities the situation continued to be monitored throughout the morning and NSRI Bakoven duty controllers were confident that there were no persons or craft in any distress in the area, Lambinon said.