Two people were swept into the sea off Whitley Bay early this morning, as huge waves crashed up to 20 feet.
A 19-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman were washed off the sea defences at the south end of the town.
Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade and Cullercoats RNLI inshore lifeboat were called at 2.41am but both had managed to make their way back to shore and were not in a serious condition.
A brigade spokesman said the man, who was extremely drunk, had been swept into the water and five of his friends tried to rescue him, but all ended up in harm’s way. All six, including the man and the woman who was also swept in, were recovered just as the first emergency units arrived.
Sea conditions were horrendous at the time, due to the high tide, wind direction and swell – with waves of between 10 and 20 foot breaking off the sea defences.
The spokesman said: "Although the lifeboat was able to launch, both their crew and Brigade members would have had great difficulty, and been in a position of great danger, had they needed to attempt rescue of anyone close inshore at that location.
"We would urge all members of the public to keep their distance from the water's edge when waves are breaking and to totally avoid coastal areas when consuming alcohol."