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Lifeguards would have prevented Camber Sands beach tragedy, relative claims

Relatives of the five men who died after a day trip to the coast said they were all able swimmers.

Five young friends who drowned on a day trip to a popular south coast beach with “hidden dangers” were all fit, healthy and competent swimmers, an inquest heard.

The men, who all lived in the London area and were of Sri Lankan origin, ran into difficulties at Camber Sands beach, near Rye, East Sussex, on August 24 last year.

The inquest in Hastings heard that some of them had been to Camber before without incident, and that they were keen on sports, particularly cricket and football.

Relatives of the five men said in statements that they were all able swimmers who would often pack up and drive to the coast for day trips.

The five victims were Kenugen Saththiyanathan, 18, known as Ken, and his brother Kobikanthan Saththiyanathan, 22, known as Kobi, both of Normandy Way, Erith, south-east London, and their friends Nitharsan Ravi, 22, of Admaston Road, Plumstead, south-east London, Inthushan Sriskantharasa, 23, of Chadwell Road, Grays, Essex, and Gurushanth Srithavarajah, 27, of Elsa Road, Welling, south-east London.

About a month before the tragedy, two other people also lost their lives at Camber. Mohit Dupar, 36, from Hayes, west London, tried to reach Brazilian Gustavo Silva Da Cruz, 19, as he got into difficulty, but both men died. Their deaths are also being considered as part of the inquest into the five friends’ loss of life.

In opening remarks, Patrick Roche, lawyer for the five victims’ families, said Camber Sands – which can attract up to 30,000 day-trippers during peak season – is a beach with “hidden dangers”.

He said: “The families are very keen for lessons to be learned and they are very keen that no one else suffers the same appalling tragedy as they have suffered.”

Before the inquest got under way, Ajirthan Ravi, the brother of Mr Ravi, said he believed the men would not have died if lifeguards had been deployed at Camber.

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Mr Ravi told reporters: “We are just hoping that it will be more secure and safer and more lifeguards, and that people are more protected.”

Consultant forensic pathologist Dr Brett Lockyer recorded a cause of death of immersion (drowning) for all five victims who died last August.

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