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Relatives 'angry' at lack of safety measures after five men die in beach tragedy

Published 25/08/2016

Screengrab from the Twitter account of Tashka4 of activity on Camber Sands, near Rye, East Sussex
Screengrab from the Twitter account of Tashka4 of activity on Camber Sands, near Rye, East Sussex

The family of one of five young friends who died during a beach day-trip have questioned why safety measures were not brought in following another man's death last month.

Relatives of Nitharsan Ravi, 22, said they felt "very angry" at the lack of response from the authorities following the death of Gustavo Silva Da Cruz, 19, at Camber Sands, near Rye, East Sussex.

Mr Ravi died on Wednesday along with four other men - all aged in their late teens and early 20s and from London. The men, who have been named locally, include Inthushan Sri, brothers Kobi and Ken Nathan and a man named only as Kurushanth.

Clutching her brother's T-shirt, Mr Ravi's sister Mayura sobbed as she remembered how he always looked out for her.

And the 17-year-old said the family felt anger that the stretch of beach where they died had not been blocked off following Mr Da Cruz's death last month.

She said: "Now it's been blocked. Why didn't they do it before? They could have saved five other lives."

Mr 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."

He said his brother had died after trying to rescue two of his friends who had become trapped underneath the water.

He said: "Ken and Inthushan got stuck in water.

"So what they do is the three boys try to save them."

He said attempt s failed and Kurushanth was brought out first and 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 after being pulled from the water, he said.

The bodies of Ken Nathan and Inthushan Sri were discovered later that evening, he said, adding that he thought they had got their legs caught in the "slippery mud" and sand on the sea bottom.

Mayura paid tribute to her older brother, saying: "He was very protective. Even two, three weeks ago he was telling me not to wear certain types of dresses because he didn't like it.

"I just want him back because it just feels like a dream, it doesn't feel real."

More than 50 relatives and friends of Mr Ravi shared their grief in the family's living room, spilling out onto the street outside.

Mr Ravi's mother's cousin Mira Lawrence, from Plumstead, south-east London, said: "We can save more people in future. We don't want to lose more people like how we lost in our family, it shouldn't happen to anyone.

"What if it's little kids, families? It's just more devastation."

Ms Lawrence said Mr Ravi loved sport: "Every weekend it's football and cricket matches. An amazing kid, very family-orientated with lots of friends."

An online petition started a month ago to campaign for lifeguards at Camber has reached more than 3,600 signatures. Local resident Emily Van Eyssen, 44, said the need for lifeguards was long overdue.

A spokesman for Rother District Council said that, despite there being no lifeguards, there were summer patrols to advise people of potential dangers.

"While it's very upsetting to see two similar, tragic incidents this summer, over the years these kind of incidents are extremely rare and on a fine day around 25,000 people use the beach safely," he said.

"Although it's too early to draw any conclusions from this latest incident, in recent years we have seen a change in the make-up of visitors to Camber, including more people from outside the area who are not familiar with the sea and the dangers it can pose."

Charles Bosco, 27, from west London, said he had known Mr Ravi since the age of 10, and described him as a "fun, bubbly guy".

He added: "He is a lovely guy who cares for his family. He is a social guy. Every time I saw him he would immediately come and talk to me."

In tribute to Mr Sri, Ranu Kumar wrote on Facebook: "Was one of the best genuine, one of my closest cousins in UK."

Mayu Mayuran, a Sri Lankan who told the Press Association he was related to Mr Sri, wrote: "We miss you Inthushan - rest in peace."

The five men had gone to the coast for a day trip, according to Sussex Police, as investigations continued into what caused their deaths.

Hannah Chatfield helped drag one of the men out of the water. She said: "Me and my boyfriend went to get him because the lifeguards were with the first guy. We were on the beach for about 45 minutes trying to resuscitate him but it didn't work."

It was feared a sixth person was missing, but there was no search operation on Thursday and day-trippers were continuing to arrive on the beach.

Chief Superintendent Di Roskilly said: "These men were not fully clothed when they were pulled from the sea, but wearing clothes appropriate for being at the beach for the day.

"We have no further reports of anyone else missing from Camber and there are no ongoing searches related to this incident.

"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."

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