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Fishermen rescued as boat sinks off Argyll coast

Four fishermen have been rescued after their boat sank off the west coast of Scotland.

Oban RNLI lifeboat sped to the 17m-long vessel south of the Garvellachs, Argyll and Bute, after the alarm was raised on Wednesday afternoon.

On arrival, the lifeboat crew discovered two men on a life-raft while two others had remained on board in a bid to stem the inflow of water.

A coastguard helicopter and local work boat also arrived to provide support, but strong winds and a heavy sea made it impossible to transfer members of the lifeboat crew across to the fishing boat with a salvage pump.

Initially it was thought the situation had stabilised, but as the vessel was being towed back to land it began to take on water once more through the prop shaft.

The fishing boat listed heavily a few miles southwest of Easdale Island and then sank in a matter of minutes.

The two men who had remained on board were pulled from the sea by the lifeboat crew.

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Ally Cerexhe, Oban lifeboat coxswain, said both the high winds and a significant swell made the operation difficult.

He said: "What had been a slow tow suddenly changed and the fishing vessel listed heavily and then sank very quickly, forcing the two members to abandon the boat and swim across to us.

"I'd like to thank my coastguard colleagues and the crew of the Celtic Guardian who assisted during the operation."

The lifeboat returned to Oban and the four men were passed into the care of the Scottish Ambulance Service and coastguard team members.