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RNLI to provide bank holiday lifeguards cover at deaths tragedy beach

Published 26/08/2016

Police officers on Camber Sands near Rye
Police officers on Camber Sands near Rye

Lifeguards will be deployed this bank holiday weekend at the popular beach where five young friends died during a day trip to the coast.

The local council accepted an offer from the RNLI to provide a temporary team of up to six lifeguards at Camber Sands, near Rye in East Sussex.

The RNLI also said a team will be on hand to give safety information to all beach-goers between Saturday and Monday.

The development came as Sussex Police formally identified the five men who died on Wednesday as inquiries into their deaths passed to the county coroner.

They 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.

Relatives of some of the men have criticised the lack of lifeguards at Camber and suggested they may have stood a chance of survival if the beach had been manned.

Mr Ravi's family said they felt "very angry" at the lack of response from the authorities following the death of another man, Brazilian Gustavo Silva Da Cruz, 19, at Camber last month.

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."

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

In recent years, Camber has attracted people from outside the area who were unfamiliar with the sea and the dangers it poses, he added.

An online petition started a month ago to campaign for lifeguards at Camber has now reached more than 6,800 signatures.

Local resident Emily Van Eyssen, 44, said money raised through car parking charges at Camber should fund lifeguards there throughout the summer.

The five young men had gone to the coast for a day trip from London.

Mr Ravi's brother said his sibling died after trying to rescue two of his friends who had become trapped beneath 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 attempts failed and Mr Srithavarajah 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 and Mr Sriskantharasa 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 seabed.

Chief Superintendent 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."

A Rother District Council spokesman said: "We very much welcome and appreciate the support the RNLI are offering to provide a temporary lifeguard service.

"People are understandably concerned in the light of the tragic incident at the beach this week and this service will provide reassurance to the public in one of the busiest weekends of the year at Camber.

"We continue to work with the RNLI, the emergency services and other partners to identify any additional measures we might need to introduce at the beach in the future."

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