Major rescue operation launched after car seen entering water from pier
A major rescue operation was mounted in Co Clare last night after a car was seen entering the sea from the end of a pier.
The alarm was raised at around 8pm on Sunday evening when eye witnesses contacted emergency services to report that a car had driven off the pier at Quilty, Co Clare.
The Irish Coast Guard marine rescue sub-centre on Valentia Island in Kerry quickly mounted a multi-agency search and rescue operation.
The Doolin and Kilkee units of the Irish Coast Guard were alerted and mobilised while the Shannon-based search and rescue helicopter, Rescue 115, was also tasked and reached the scene in a matter of minutes.
Two units of the fire brigade and an ambulance from Ennistymon were sent to the scene.
On arrival, fire crews quickly located the vehicle, however, while they could see the car, it was too far below the surface for personnel to reach.
At the time emergency services had no information about how many, if any, persons were in the vehicle. Witnesses could not say whether there was any occupants in the car.
Locals reported seeing a car in the area of the pier about 90 minutes before the incident and believed there were as many as three people inside.
Local divers were called into assist and quickly entered the water to carry out a closer investigation.
On reaching the vehicle, divers found no persons inside however one of the car's doors was found to be open.
Divers continued to search the area around the car in case there were any casualties who may have been thrown from the vehicle or managed to escape.
There was also speculation that the car may have been intentionally pushed into the sea.
Ground crews and divers continued their search while a local building contractor provided a crane to emergency services to help remove the vehicle from the water.
According to sources, the vehicle may have been stolen earlier in the day in Limerick.