London

Camber Sands victims: Hundreds turn out for funerals

The coffin of Gurushanth Srithavarajah is carried to into marquee tents on Winn's Common Image copyright PA
Image caption A Hindu ceremony was held near where most of the men lived in south-east London

Hundreds of mourners have gathered for the funerals of five friends from south-east London who died while on a day trip to Camber Sands beach.

Kenugen Saththiyanathan, Kobikanthan Saththiyanathan, Nitharsan Ravi, Inthushan Sriskantharaja and Gurushanth Srithavarajah got into difficulties in the water at the East Sussex resort.

Nearly 2,000 people joined the Hindu ceremony at Winn's Common.

Mourners lined up to lay petals on coffins carried into marquee tents.

'Touched our hearts'

Image copyright PA
Image caption The funeral was partly organised by the football club where the men played
Image copyright PA
Image caption Mourners lined up from dawn on Winn's Common

Sai Yoghananthan, a friend of the group, said their deaths had hit the community hard.

She said: "They were just five boys who were active in the community; they were part of football clubs, cricket clubs, and part of the volunteering at the temple as well.

"They were known by many many people. They had their own circle of friends, and their families are very close-knit. It has just touched all of our hearts."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The coffin of Gurushanth Srithavarajah was carried by mourners into the marquee tents
Image copyright PA
Image caption Relatives and friends wept as they lay petals on the open coffins of the five friends

Navi Ananth, a friend of Nitharsan Ravi, said he "was one of those lovely kind of personalities".

"I think it's kind of unbelievable to think that he's not going to be here anymore," she said.

Krishna Suresh, a former mayor of Harrow, said the deaths were "a big tragedy for the Tamil community".

Following the ceremony, the coffins were taken by horse drawn carriages for a private cremation at Hither Green Cemetery in Lewisham.

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Image caption The coffins were loaded on to horse drawn carriages after the ceremony
Image copyright PA
Image caption They were taken for a private cremation at Hither Green cemetery

Jaffna 11 football group, where the victims played, and Lewisham Sivan temple organised the funeral along with the families.

More than £9,000 was raised through a JustGiving page for the service.

Lifeguards will be on duty at the beach for the rest of the summer season after relatives of the victims criticised the lack of lifeguards and safety warnings.

Speaking at the service, MP for Eltham Clive Efford said: "Questions need to be asked about how we arrange safety on our beaches."

Image copyright PA
Image caption A friend of Nitharsan Ravi said the 22-year-old "was one of those lovely kind of personalities"

The men who died at the beach were:

  • Brothers Kenugen Saththiyanathan, 18, and Kobikanthan Saththiyanathan 22, from Erith
  • Nitharsan Ravi, 22, from Plumstead
  • Inthushan Sriskantharaja, 23, from Grays
  • Gurushanth Srithavarajah, 27, from Welling
Image copyright @Tashka4
Image caption Three of the men were pulled from the water and two were found later

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