Cornwall

Three people die after getting into difficulty in the sea in Cornwall

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Media captionConditions on the beach were fairly typical, as the BBC's Jon Kay reports

Two men and a woman have died after getting into difficulty in the sea off a beach in Cornwall.

They were among seven surfers who had to be helped from the water at Mawgan Porth, near Newquay.

Four children, who were among the seven, were saved but the adults died after being airlifted to hospital.

The dead included a man in his 50s from outside the Devon and Cornwall area and a man and woman in their 40s from Cornwall, police said.

Devon and Cornwall Police said the family of the man in his 50s had been informed of his death.

Image copyright Cornish Guardian/SWNS
Image caption The three adults were taken from the sea unconscious and received medical treatment on the beach
Image copyright Cornish Guardian/SWNS
Image caption Air ambulances from Devon and Cornwall helped ferry the casualties to hospital in Truro

Coastguards received "multiple 999 calls" at about 13:15 GMT when the seven got into trouble in what is believed to have been a rip current.

The South Western Ambulance Service said the initial call reported "seven people had been caught in a rip tide".

After the alarm was raised, a search was launched involving Newquay and Padstow Coastguard rescue teams, RNLI lifeboats and a Royal Navy helicopter from RNAS Culdrose.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Police described the deaths at Mawgan Porth as a "tragic incident"

Ian Guy, from the Coastguard's National Maritime Operations Centre, said the three adults were brought in from the sea via a combination of lifeboats and the helicopter.

The helicopter winch was used to bring one of them to shore and all three were given medical treatment on the beach.

They were transferred to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro by the navy helicopter and Devon and Cornwall's air ambulances but pronounced dead in hospital.

'Tragic accident'

A spokeswoman for the South Western Ambulance Service described the children as "walking wounded" and said they were also taken to the same hospital for treatment.

The manager of the nearby Merrymoor Inn, said the children, whom he described as "teenagers", were taken to the pub by police after the incident.

"They were not injured in any way," he said. "They stayed with us in the building for approximately two-and-a-half hours and left with the emergency services."

Mr Bennett said the weather conditions were "OK" and described the deaths as a "tragic accident."

"It's a very sad day for us," he said.

Image copyright Cornish Guardian/SWNS
Image caption Rescuers scoured the waters at Mawgan Porth to make sure no-one was left in the sea
Image copyright Picture from Eyewitness
Image caption A Royal Navy helicopter from RNAS Culdrose was involved in a search for the surfers

Gareth Horner, Newquay lifeboat operations manager, told ITV News his understanding was the seven were "in two groups and that one of the casualties actually entered the sea to assist other people who were in trouble".

He also said the beach was "dangerous" and conditions in the area were "not really very good for surfing and bodyboarding".

Peter Abell, owner of the nearby Kingsurf surfing school - which was not involved in the incident - said sea conditions on Sunday were "not as bad as it can be", but added some currents were "slightly more dangerous than usual".

He said: "The waves were bigger, they were quite big. It wasn't the safest of days to be in the sea but it wasn't particularly dangerous.

"There were lots of safe places to be and they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Image copyright Lucy Higgins
Image caption Coastguards received "multiple 999 calls" when the group got into trouble

Supt Jim Pearce, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "This is a tragic incident and our condolences go out to the families of those involved.

"Along with the other emergency services, we are now working to ascertain the full circumstances of this incident and our priority is to contact the families of those involved and offer all the support we can."

The tragedy follows the death of a 23-year-old man who drowned in the sea off Newquay in early hours of Saturday.

Rip currents

  • Sometimes wrongly referred to as rip tides, rip currents are strong, localised and narrow currents of water
  • They move directly away from the shore and cut through the lines of breaking waves
  • The RNLI has said they can be major problem for surfers, swimmers and bodyboarders, dragging them out of safe depths
  • People who do not have the necessary water skills can be placed at risk in a rip current if they panic or exhaust themselves swimming directly against the flow

Source: Press Association and RNLI

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