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Pair drowned off 'dangerous' coast

Holidaymakers have been urged to stick to beaches patrolled by lifeguards after a five-year-old girl and her grandfather drowned off a "dangerous" stretch of the Portuguese coast.

Fishermen recovered the bodies of Lara Lewis and Brian O'Dwyer, 66, from choppy waters near the holiday resort of Nazare, around 60 miles north of Lisbon.

It is thought Lara was walking with her grandparents along a sandy beach when they were all pulled into the sea by strong waves. Her grandmother was rescued off Salgado beach by local seamen and she was taken to hospital.

Lara's parents, Philip Lewis, a professor at University College London, and Sian Lewis, are believed to have been sunbathing in the picturesque fishing village when the incident happened at around 2pm on Tuesday.

Neighbours of the Lewis's home in Hackney, east London, described them as a "happy and loving" family. Family members at the house in Glenarm Road said they were too upset to speak.

Jorge Barroso, mayor of Nazare municipality, described the deaths as a "regrettable accident". He added: "The accident happened on a beach with a sea considered very dangerous and in an area without surveillance."

A spokesman for the Maritime Authority in Nazare said the part of the beach where the incident happened is widely known in the area to be hazardous. He added: "The beach has information that tells you about that area where they were and it tells you there's no surveillance, no lifeguards, on that part of the beach. It's very far from where they are stationed."

He said two local fishermen brought the bodies back to the shore, where lifeguards were the first on the scene and attempted first aid on the beach.

Pictures of the scene showed firefighters crouching down in the sand in the afternoon sunshine, about to move the victims. It is thought the emergency services attempted to revive Lara for nearly an hour.

David Mason, a translator, lives next door to the Lewis family and said he had known Lara since she was a baby. He said: "This is terribly sad news and for a lot of people it's still sinking in. They were well-known across the community and a lot of people are very upset by the news."

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