Lifeguards will be deployed at Camber Sands this bank holiday weekend after five friends died during a day trip to the popular beach on England’s south coast.
Council officials said the temporary RNLI lifeguard service at the beach near Rye, in East Sussex, had been put in place to reassure the public and advise on safety.
The development came as police formally identified the deceased men as Kenugen Saththiyanathan, 18, his brother Kobikanthan, 22, and their friends Nitharsan Ravi, 22, Inthushan Sriskantharasa, 23, and Gurushanth Srithavarajah, 27. All were from Greater London.
Three of the men were pulled from the sea on Wednesday afternoon and two others were found later that evening when the tide receded. Their deaths have now been passed on to a coroner, Sussex police said.
While it is not clear how the accident unfolded, one theory was that the men had been playing football on a sandbar before being cut off by a strong tide on what was the hottest day of the year in Britain.
Relatives of some of the men have criticised the lack of lifeguards at Camber Sands and suggested they may have stood a chance of survival if the beach had been manned.
Ravi’s family said they felt very angry at the lack of response from the authorities after the death last month of Gustavo Silva Da Cruz, a 19-year-old Brazilian who got into difficulty while swimming.
Ravi’s younger brother, Ajirthan, 19, said: There wasn’t any lifeguards cruising around, because they would have quickly noticed these boys drowning, and could have at least saved their lives.
The Satthiyanathan brothers’ father, Arumukam, 51, of Erith, south-east London, told the Sun: I brought my children from Sri Lanka because it is not safe back there. But there were no lifeguards on the beach where they died. If there had been, my sons would have at least had a fighting chance of survival.
A spokesman for Rother district council said that, despite there being no lifeguards, there were summer patrols at Camber Sands to advise people of potential dangers.
In recent years the beach had attracted people from outside the area who were unfamiliar with the sea and the dangers it posed, he said.
An online petition launched a month ago to campaign for lifeguards at Camber Sands has now received more than 6,800 signatures.
Resident Emily Van Eyssen, 44, said money raised through car parking charges at Camber should fund lifeguards during the summer.
Ajirthan Ravi said his brother had died after trying to rescue two of his friends. Ken and Inthushan got stuck in water. So what they do is the three boys try to save them.
He said attempts failed and Srithavarajah was recovered first, but declared dead straight away.
My bro and Kobi had heartbeats and managed to survive for a few minutes but after first aid they couldn’t recover.
Both died within 15 minutes of being pulled from the water, he said.
The bodies of Kenugen Saththiyanathan and Sriskantharasa were discovered later that evening, he said, adding that he thought their legs had become caught in the slippery mud and sand on the seabed.
Supt Di Roskilly, of Sussex police, said: This has been an incredibly tragic incident and we are offering their next of kin support at this difficult time and our thoughts are with them.
Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye, said a statement she was saddened to hear about Wednesday’s events and her thoughts and prayers were with those affected.
Rudd, the home secretary, added: This morning I spoke to Katy Bourne, Sussex police and crime commissioner, to discuss what steps can be taken to try to prevent something similar from happening in the future.
Local leadership are very aware that this is something they need to come together to address and so we are going to be convening a group of local leaders to work out what additional actions can be taken to stop such awful incidents from happening. Camber Sands has strong riptides and we need to find ways to put additional protection in place.
In addition, I have spoken to Cllr Keith Glazier, leader of East Sussex county council, and he has assured me that Rother district council and the police are conducting a thorough investigation into the causes of this terrible tragedy.
The MP also paid tribute to the emergency services, the beach inspector and the members of public who sought to save the men’s lives.
An RNLI spokesman said: In response to recent tragic events at Camber Sands, the RNLI is working with Rother district council to provide reassurance to the public by providing a temporary RNLI lifeguard service which will work alongside the existing local authority personnel.
The charity will provide a team of five to six lifeguards and appropriate equipment over the bank holiday weekend, Saturday to Monday, 9am to 6pm, on Camber Sands who will work alongside the local authority beach patrol teams.
In addition to the lifeguard service, the RNLI will also be providing a face-to-face team to provide safety information to visitors at the beach.
News Source TheGuardianNews