An SOS call which sparked a large scale rescue operation in Morecambe Bay turned out to be a hoax.
Thirty firefighters from both Lancashire and Cumbria, coastguard and a rescue boat searched the Bay on Monday afternoon after claims that people were trapped in sinking sand.
The alarm was raised at 2.30pm on Monday.
A caller in Bolton claimed to have intercepted an SOS from people trapped in Morecambe Bay via a radio transmitter.
Seventy foot high observation ‘cherry pickers’ went out onto the sands at Red Bank Farm at Bolton-le-Sands to scour the area, while a police helicopter circled over Teal Bay and up to Arnside.
Emergency service workers held people back at the VVV gym with around 20 cars backed up while the operation went on.
But John Taylor, spokesman for Lancashire Fire and Rescue, said the call was later found to be a hoax and police were now investigating.
“This takes resources away from genuine incidents,” said Mr Taylor.
Tony Ashworth, from Lancaster Fire Station, speaking at the scene, added: “It’s beyond belief why someone would do that. It just seems a ridiculous thing to do.”
He estimated the operation could have cost the fire service more than £1,000.