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Buried alive
 

Beneath a bright moon, Howlett walked toward the sea and wandered along the beach. The tide was out, leaving ripples and tiny pools of water on the sand. Hoping to walk for hours, Howlett continued. He had scarcely gone a few steps when he felt himself sinking into the soft sand. Stretching out his arms for balance, he tried to jump away but instead he sank deeper. In a matter of seconds, Howlett was up to his knees in a soft pudding. Quicksand! The realization stunned him. The swirling currents of the river sometimes dig out hollows which are then filled with the porridge-like sediment. Only an expert eye can detect them. Howlett thought to himself, My God, I'm being buried alive.

Howlett continued to sink until the sand had reached his waist. Howlett remembered that it was low tide when he came to the beach. That gave him another nine or ten hours before the tide returned. He had a chance after all! He began to scoop away the sand around his waist. But no matter how fast he dug, the sand flowed back into place. Soon his fingers were numb with the digging while his legs ached with cramps.

Meanwhile, at the first break of daylight, Tony Gardner, 54, got up to check his sheep. Suddenly he heard something. It sounded as if somebody was calling for help. After informing his wife, he dialed for the police. Within minutes, Constable Ian Nickson arrived, and together with the Gardners set off toward the cries. They found Howlett. Nickson radioed the headquarters and then, after gripping Howlett below the armpits, the two men struggled to lift him out of the quicksand. However, Howlett's body did not budge. Nickson radioed for reinforcements.

Soon the deserted beach was filled with firefighters, paramedics and other rescuers who arrived with air-bottles, ropes, ladders and other rescue gear. It was 7.50 a.m. High tide was expected by 8.35 a.m. Realizing that there was no time to lose, rescuers redoubled their efforts. Firefighters blasted through the sand using a steel tube that was attached to an air cylinder by a rubber hose. Instead of loosening the grip of the quicksand, the jets of air only got rid of the water from the quicksand, thus making it even harder.

At the sight of the frothy water that was now sweeping in, Howlett saw one of his rescuers, Sue Williamson begin her attack on the quicksand with renewed vigor. Howlett's heart went out to the rescuers. The in-rushing water reached his waist at a frightening rate. It was rising at the amazing speed of two inches with every passing minute.

Auxiliary Coast Guard Officer, Tom Hayhurst, was next to arrive at the scene with his team, hugging a coiled hose and pipes. Hayhurst's men began setting up a high pressure water jet that would blast aside the mud. By now the rescuers had to rescue each other as they themselves were sinking into the sand.

The swirling water was now almost reaching his chin. Howlett fought for self-control. He bent his head back and upward. One of the paramedics beside him pushed the nozzle of the power jet into the sand at the side of Howlett's leg and soon it was pushing the sand aside.

Soon Howlett could move his toes. Within the next few seconds, his right leg was pulled out by the firefighters. There was a cheer among the rescuers. Eager hands grabbed Howlett and pulled.
Howlett screamed in pain. Finally, he was out. Howlett was carried to the beach and laid on blankets. Just then, the incoming tide swept over the spot where Howlett was just a few moments ago.

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Begin your summary as follows: After walking a few minutes along the beach, Howlett felt ...

 
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Answer
 
After walking a few minutes along the beach, Howlett felt himself sinking into the soft sand. He tried to jump away but he sank deeper and soon was up to his knees in quicksand. Howlett panicked as he continued to sink. When he tried to scoop away the sand around his waist, the sand oozed back again. Howlett shouted for help. Fortunately, his shouts were heard by Tony Gardner who then told his wife and then informed the police. When Gardner and Constable Nickson failed to get Howlett out, Nickson radioed for reinforcements. The rescuers arrived and first tried to blast jets of air to loosen the grip of the quicksand but filed. Meanwhile, the tide was coming in and the water level was rising. Then using a high pressure water jet, one of the paramedics managed to push the sand aside. Soon Howlett's right leg was free. The rescuers grabbed Howlett and pulled and soon he was free. ( 158 words )
     
 
 

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