Film sparks air/sea search

An elderly woman in Scotland watching a film on television triggered an alert by calling coastguards to alert them to swimmers in distress after confusing drama with real life, an official said Wednesday.

A Royal Navy helicopter, a lifeboat and a team of coastguards were sent to hunt for the “missing” bathers on Monday after a call from the unidentified woman in Ayr.

But officials realised soon afterwards that the woman, who had been watching the 2003 film “Open Water” showing a couple being attacked by sharks while scuba diving, had imagined that the scenes on television were real.

“She was watching a programme on TV and she phoned 999 and asked for the coastguard,” a local coastguard spokesman said.

“We could hear the screams in the background. She just thought it was a real incident happening in front of her.”

He added: “You can’t charge her with hoax calls, you just feel sorry for her.”

See Dick Durham’s blog on the film.