Tower lifeboat station was the busiest in UK and Ireland last year

The Tower lifeboat station was the busiest in the UK and Republic of Ireland last year, launching 491 times with almost half of those - 246 - at night-time.

Figures released by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) today show that crews at the Tower station, under Waterloo Bridge, rescued 113 people during 2010 and their number of launches was a 22 per cent increase on the 380 launches in 2009.

If the other central London station along the River Thames at Chiswick is added to the equation, both carried out 720 rescue missions in 2010.

The two stations’ crews were collectively on the river for almost 400 hours.

Andrew Ashton, divisional inspector for the RNLI East Division, said: ‘These figures show that once again RNLI lifeboats on the River Thames in the heart of London have had a busy year of saving and rescuing people in distress.

“When you consider that we remain to this day a charity, independent of the Government and the coastguard, this is no mean feat.”

Overall, the RNLI rescued a total of 8,313 people in 2010, more than the 8,186 rescued in 2009.

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The charity holds its annual SOS fundraising day this Friday across the country.

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