TWO CHILDREN nearly drowned during an event where people walk along an exposed causeway to a sea fort off the Isle of Wight.

Yesterday's St Helens Fort Walk nearly ended in disaster when the two young girls fell into a deep hole after walking from Bembridge.

The annual unofficial event attracts hundreds of people to St Helens and Bembridge to complete the walk to the fort during the especially low tide.

A spokesperson for Bembridge RNLI said: "Two girls, thought to be aged around seven and ten, nearly drowned when they were walking back from having walked to the fort and fell into some deep holes in Bembridge Channel.

"Fortunately their progress was being monitored by the volunteer three man crew of RNLB Norman Harvey which had been launched earlier in the evening to provide a safety presence at this annual 'happening' and they were pulled out of the water by the quick thinking crew who swum to them and brought them back to the Norman Harvey.

"With the two youngsters safely on board the lifeboat, they were taken to the shore to rendezvous with local coastguard officers and to be reunited with the remaining members of their party.

"Unfortunately, they then left the scene without leaving any details with the coastguard and without the girls being checked over medically."

An appeal was launched to track down the girls and have them medically checked over, as it was thought they had probably ingested water when they had gone underwater and were therefore at risk of secondary drowning.

In a separate incident, a child, initially thought to be suffering from anaphylactic shock, was brought back to the lifeboat station and handed over to a waiting ambulance.

The crew from Bembridge RNLI also reunited two dogs with their owners during the fort walk.