TWO young girls had to be rescued after they got trapped in the mud trying to save their dog.
The 11-year-olds waded 300ft out into Langstone Harbour, off Eastern Road, Portsmouth but became stuck up to their waists, unable to move.
The dog then freed itself and ran back to shore.
Luckily, nearby dog walkers raised the alarm just after 3pm yesterday when they noticed the girls in distress – and so began a delicate rescue operation.
Wearing full survival suits, special boots and using poles to help get through the thick mud, the coastguard mud rescue team and specially-trained paramedics waded out to where the girls were.
They found them shivering, cold and scared.
Crowds of onlookers watched as they helped haul the girls out and put them on a sledge attached to a winch.
Blankets were wrapped around them and the rescuers laughed and joked with them in a bid to keep them calm until they were taken safely back to shore.
From there they were put in emergency survival blankets to bring their temperatures up and taken by ambulance to Queen Alexandra Hospital where they were checked over and treated for shock.
Helen Charij, 44, from Horndean, was walking her dog when the drama began to unfold.
She said: ‘I saw the two girls out there with their little dog and I said to another woman “do you think they’re safe?”
‘She shouted out to them and they shouted back that they were stuck so someone called the fire service.
‘The dog was fine, it was running back and forth until I managed to get hold of it.’
The rescue operation took more than an hour and the girls are believed to have been in the mud for up to an hour before they were spotted as the tide was going out.
The emergency services have warned people not to attempt to rescue dogs as they usually manage to free themselves, as happened in yesterday’s incident.
Katharine Piggin, Solent Coastguard watch manager said: ‘The recent heavy rain and incoming tides can create areas of quicksand which quickly suck you in.
‘If your dog becomes stuck in mud please don’t try to free it yourself as you can become stuck yourself. If you do become stuck in mud you should try and spread your weight as much as possible and if you have a mobile phone dial 999 and ask for the coastguard. Avoid moving and stay as calm as you can.
‘You should also discourage others from attempting to rescue you because without the proper equipment they could become stuck too.’