Two men were rescued from the sea after their fishing boat capsized.

Rescuers said a third man managed to reach the shore, but the other two were found floating on their backs and were plucked to safety by two members of the Lyme Regis Lifeboat crew who went into the water to reach them.

The boat capsized near the mouth of the River Axe at Axmouth, Devon, last night.

Rescuers said the men - who were not wearing life jackets - were 'very lucky'.

One of the two men was airlifted from the lifeboat by the coastguard helicopter and taken to Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester suffering from the cold.

The second man was taken ashore by the lifeboat crew and is thought to have been taken to hospital in Exeter.

One man using a torch was spotted in the water by coastguards from Beer and Lyme Regis who were communicating with the lifeboat from the shore, and the other was found thanks to searchlights from the helicopter.

As well as the lifeboat, Beer and Lyme Regis Coastguard teams, Sidmouth and Exmouth lifeboats, the Coastguard helicopter, first responders and South Western Abulance paramedics all responded to the incident.

The two lifeboat crew members who recovered the men from the sea were Andy Butterfield and Rich Tilley.

Lifeboat helm Tim Edwards said: “The men were very lucky, but they were doing what the RNLI recommends and floating on their backs waiting for help to arrive.”

The lifeboat crew were alerted at 4.59pm and launched seven minutes later. They returned to Lyme Regis at 7pm after two hours at sea.

The capsized fishing boat was towed to Beer by the crew of the independent Sidmouth lifeboat.

A spokesman for Beer Coastguard said: "We were tasked to three people in the water after their boat capsized trying to enter the river; they were not wearing lifejackets. 

"On arrival one man had managed to swim ashore but was suffering from hypothermia. We could see another man waving a light about 100m off shore but could not see the third man.

"Lyme Regis Lifeboat immediately went to the man in the water we could see, while we started treatment of the man ashore and the Axe Yacht Club opened up for us to get him inside. More resources were on route to assist in the incident.

"Lyme lifeboat brought the second man ashore and again he was suffering from hypothermia, he was taken inside and started his treatment, (first) responders arrived on scene and continued their treatment while the other resources were searching the shoreline and sea for the missing man.

"Two ambulances arrived at scene and carried on the treatment.

"The Coastguard helicopter located the third man over 500m west of the river mouth and 200m off shore, again Lyme lifeboat pulled him from the water and because of his condition he was airlifted into the helicopter and flown to hospital while the other two were taken to hospital by land ambulances.

"With all three casualties on route to hospital we turned our attention to the casualties' boat which was drifting half submerged off shore.

"Sidmouth lifeboat managed to tow it to Beer beach where Coastguards manged to get it up the beach with help from a local fisherman."

The spokesman added: "These men are very lucky that somebody saw what happened and dialled 999.

"Lifejackets save lives - always wear a lifejacket at sea and don't remove it until you are safe ahore. 

"We wish them a speedy recovery."

The team would like to thank the Axe Yacht Club and Beer fisherman Kim for their help and those that dialled 999 - they said without those calls the outcome would have been 'very differrent'.