Camber Sands beach deaths: Friends were 'competent swimmers'

Emergency teams at Camber Sands on 24 August 2016 Image copyright PA / @Tashka4
Image caption Two brothers died with three of their friends at Camber last year

An inquest into the deaths of five young men at Camber Sands has heard they were all able swimmers and keen on sport.

Two brothers, Ken, 18, and Kobi Saththiyanathan, 22, died at the Sussex beach last August along with three of their friends.

A pathologist told the hearing in Hastings that all five drowned.

Earlier, a lawyer said the beach, which can attract 30,000 people a day at peak times, had "hidden dangers".

Two other people died in July 2016, after one got into difficulty at Camber and the other tried to reach him - the circumstances of their deaths will be considered as part of the inquest into the five friends' deaths.

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Media captionAjirthan Ravi, brother of Nitharsan Ravi, called for increased safety at Camber before inquest proceedings began

In his opening remarks, the family's barrister Patrick Roche said relatives were keen that "no-one else suffers the same appalling tragedy".

The men who died all lived in the London area and were of Sri Lankan origin.

The inquest heard the two brothers had grown up in a Sri Lankan village surrounded by three rivers and had "good swimming ability".

Brother 'loved beach'

A statement by the brothers' father Arumukam Saththiyanathan said his sons regularly played cricket and football and swam in Sri Lanka almost every weekend before they came to the UK in 2008 when they were aged 10 and 14.

He added: "As a family we went to the beaches in the UK nearly every summer and the boys went without us sometimes."

He said Kobi, a business studies student at Brighton University, loved Camber and had visited the beach three times in 2016 before his death.

Consultant forensic pathologist Dr Brett Lockyer, said toxicology tests on both brothers were negative for drugs and alcohol.

Ken, an A Level student, was described as healthy with no natural disease, and a GP report on Kobi said he had no serious conditions and was not on repeat medication.

Their mother, Jegaleela Saththiyanathan, said both her sons were physically fit and played sport at a district level in Sri Lanka.

Image copyright PA
Image caption 'Competent swimmer' Nitharsan Ravi was studying aeronautical engineering at Brighton

Camber Sands deaths

Kenugen Saththiyanathan, 18, known as Ken, died alongside his brother Kobikanthan Saththiyanathan, 22, known as Kobi, both from Erith, south east London.

Their three friends, who also died on 24 August were Nitharsan Ravi, 22, from Plumstead, Inthushan Sriskantharasa, 23, from Grays, Essex and Gurushanth Srithavarajah, 27, from Welling.

On 24 July, Mohit Dupar, 36, from Hayes, west London, attempted to reach Brazilian Gustavo Silva Da Cruz, 19, after he got into difficulty.

Mr Silva Da Cruz died at the scene. Mr Dupar died in hospital four days later.

The inquest heard Mr Ravi had been admitted to hospital with a head injury the day before he died, after an alleged assault four days earlier, but Dr Lockyer said: "I don't believe the head injury has played a significant part in this man's demise."

Mr Ravi's father, Nagaratnam, said his "fit and healthy" son, who had driven the group to Camber, was a competent swimmer.

The Brighton University aeronautical engineering student was "caring, polite and humble and was active with a high work rate," Mr Ravi added.

He said his family visited beaches every year and his son was "accustomed to swimming".

Inthushan Sriskantharasa, a Tesco shift manager, was on a day off from work when he died.

His uncle, Sivapragasan Thavarasa, said he had seen him swimming in the sea and described him as a "very able".

Gurushanth Srithavarajah, a student and part-time shop assistant, spent the first 12 years of his life living near the sea in Sri Lanka and was described by his sister, Kabinuja as a competent swimmer.

The inquest continues.

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