TWO girls had to be rescued by a lifeboat crew after their inflatable dinghy drifted into a busy shipping channel off the North Flintshire coast on Friday.

The incident happened shortly before 12pm when the girls, aged 17 and 7, were carried approximately 500 metres off the beach at Talacre by a strong offshore wind to the west of lighthouse.

An inshore RNLI crew from Rhyl managed to reach the girls within 14 minutes of receiving the call, with the younger of the two in the dinghy, while the older girl in the water trying to hold the inflatable's position.

Coastguard teams from both Flint and Rhyl were also tasked to join in the operation, while the Coastguard rescue helicopter from Caernarvon was also despatched to the scene, in what was the second incident involving a drifting inflatable on the same beach in a matter of days.

Vinny Jones, helm of the inshore lifeboat said: 'It was good fortune that the inshore lifeboat crew spotted the dinghy within a short timescale.

"They were in the middle of the busy shipping channel, and would not have been spotted easily by the fast vessels using the port. It was a great team effort by all the agencies involved, with a successful outcome.

"We hope both the girls recover fully from their ordeal."

As a second, all-weather lifeboat, also from Rhyl, and the helicopter arrived on scene, the girls had already been safely hauled aboard and rushed back to the shore, where they were checked over by waiting coastguards and described as feeling cold, but otherwise fine.

Coastguards from Flint and Rhyl had to respond to another incident involving an inflatable dinghy on Monday afternoon, and a member of the lifeboat team has now moved to remind beach goers of the dangers of using such toys in the open water.

Paul Frost, duty coxswain of the all-weather lifeboat said: "We always advise the public to swim at a lifeguarded beach, and to take advice from the lifeguards regarding offshore winds and ebb tides.

"Inflatables are dangerous things, and it proved today that the dinghy can be over half a kilometre from shore in a matter of minutes.

"The sea is not the place for inflatables. Our volunteers did a great job spotting a small boat in rapidly worsening weather."