A 40-year old holidaymaker is recovering after being rescued from deep mud by Minehead’s volunteer RNLI lifeboat crew in a "life or death" situation. 

A tractor used to free her was adbandoned as it sunk after the rescue mission.

She was one of four people who found themselves trapped as they attempted to cross from Minehead sea front to the harbour.

Her companions – and their two dogs – managed to struggle free but the woman remained stuck - and quickly surrounded by the incoming tide.

Minehead’s D-class lifeboat was launched and coastguard and fire service units also attended.

The Minehead crew managed to manoeuvre the D class close to the woman then removed its floor mat to support her torso while they dug under the water around her legs to free her.

She was finally hauled clear and put ashore, shocked but unhurt, on the harbour.

But by then the D class launch tractor had itself had become bogged down in the mud and despite efforts to free it had to be abandoned. It was covered by the tide and arrangements are being made to retrieve it tonight (Monday).

Minehead RNLI Local Operations Manager Dr John Higgie said the crew had found themselves dealing with a genuine life or death situation.

“By the time they got to the woman the water was almost up to her armpits and understandably she was panicking,” he said.

“At that point we were the only agency capable of saving her and the crew did so quickly, efficiently and decisively. It was a real team effort.

“It was unfortunate that the tractor had to be abandoned but equipment can be replaced: human lives can’t.”