A TEN-YEAR-OLD girl was trapped up to her waist in quicksand for an hour and a half on a beach in the Solway Firth as rescuers battled to free her.
The girl was believed to have been walking with her parents on the beach at Sandyhills in Dumfries and Galloway yesterday morning when she wandered away from them and on to a treacherous mudflat.
Holidaymakers watched the drama 100 yards from the beach as the girl remained stuck in the mud for about 90 minutes.
Firefighters laid an inflatable platform across the mud alongside Southwick Burn which flows across the bay and is filled by the incoming tide. They managed to crawl to her and used specialist equipment to free her.
The girl, who has not been named by police, was on holiday with her parents and other members of the family who watched anxiously as the work went on.
Andy Thomas, a warden at nearby Sandyhills caravan park, helped rescuers take equipment to the scene on his quad bike and trailer as the drama unfolded. “The girl has been walking out on the beach with her mum and dad where it is quite muddy and had decided to go to the soft bits of sand,” he said. “I think she was paddling out.”
Mr Thomas said that the girl’s parents were in danger of being sucked into the mud and had to keep about five yards away from their daughter until help arrived.
“She was a bit upset when I first saw her but her parents were calling out to her ‘you’ll be fine, you’ll be fine’,” he said. “Whoever answered the phone at the emergency services reassured her she wouldn’t sink any deeper.”
Mr Thomas added: “Luckily the tide was out at the time or it could have been completely different.”
“There are signs up there warning people about the treacherous tides and you’ve got to be careful when you’re on the coast.”
Mr Thomas and two elderly walkers dialed 999 about 11:10am and the girl was freed at approximately 12:30pm.
Firefighters used two inflatable rescue “lilos” to reach where the girl and were then able to work in safety to free her.
The area was hit by heavy showers and wind as the rescue took place.
The girl who was pulled free, still wearing her purple wellington boots covered in polka dots, was wrapped in a blanket and put on a stretcher before she was taken to Dumfries Infirmary by ambulance suffering from the cold.
A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “We sent two fire engines, a fire rescue boat and an incident support vehicle to the scene.”
Coastguard teams from Port-ling, Kirkcudbright and Annan were called out along with the Nith Inshore Lifeboat, police and firefighters from Dumfries. A Coastguard spokesman, based at Liverpool where the rescue was co-ordinated, said: “We got a call that two young people were stuck on the sands but one managed to get out and tried to free the other girl.”