THREE volunteer lifeboat crews and a coastguard helicopter were mobilised after a report of six people in the sea off Minehead sea front late on Friday night.

The fire service were first on the scene with the police and ambulance, followed by the two Coastguard Search and Rescue Teams from Watchet and Minehead who searched the beach for anyone else who may be in trouble and coordinated the search until it was deemed acceptable to stand it down.

The emergency services attended following a 999 call from a member of the public at 11.40pm.

Minehead’s two RNLI lifeboats were quickly launched and the Barry Dock lifeboat and a coastguard helicopter both joined the operation from South Wales.

But The Gazette understands the rescue services were stood down after contact was made on the beach with the supposed casualties – a family on holiday at Butlins holiday centre.

Minehead RNLI spokesman Chris Rundle said the origin of the incident appeared to have been a family dispute.

“It appears one family member was actually wading knee-deep in the sea but the whole group was reported as being in difficulties by a third party,” he said.

“It was a very confused situation but clearly when there is a report of persons in the water no-one can afford to take any chances.

“This actually turned out to be a very expensive response to a false alarm but the scale of the resources deployed was no more than was warranted by the situation as initially described.”