A HOVERCRAFT was used to tow a car submerged by the tide on a Somerset beach.

The Burnham Coastguard Rescue Team was alerted at around 7.30pm yesterday (Saturday) after the vehicle was "picked up and moved about a bit" by the tide on Brean beach.

They were tasked to provide safety cover to the BARB Search And Rescue as they used the hovercraft to pull the vehicle from the mud.

A coastguard spokesman said: "Once we arrived the tide was just starting to turn so we liaised with BARB and agreed that there was no danger to anyone in the water so therefore await the retreating tide to uncover the cover before commencing any recovery.

"We ensured the driver was calm and provided a blanket and some comforting words for her as she was suffering a little shock from the ordeal."

As the tide receded beyond the car, coastguards checked the vehicle for any leaks, while the fog lights were intermittently on and off, the airbags had been deployed and the footwells and boot were full of water.

The spokesman added: "We then provided safety cover for BARB who quickly set about towing it up to the concrete ramp where it was then left for Weston Recovery Services to collect for the insurance company."

Earlier, the woman driver had parked up on the top of the beach and gone for a walk, not realising the tide would come in so far while she was gone.

As she made her way back down the steps she could see that the tide was starting to pick the vehicle up and move it about a bit and enlisted the support of the beach warden, who notified the coastguard.

The coastguard spokesman said: "Although this happens a few times a year and there are signs about when you enter the beach, we should spare a thought for anyone in this predicament - a lapse of judgement, a misunderstanding of tides, an over sense of security as the water looks so far away when the tide is out.

"Maybe the biggest of all is that if you don't know the beach and someone says it's a 10.6 metre tide today but you have never seen that, it's hard to visualise where that comes to on the beach especially if you have just turned up for the day and never been before.

"In this instance, the driver did the right thing and parked in a designated area, her only downfall was not realising the height of the tide.

"Which is why we believe that beach safety and knowledge is so important, not just for locals but more importantly for those who don't have access to beaches on a regular basis.

"And just as important is knowing who to call in an emergency at the beach - 999 and ask for Coastguards."