Dewsbury family 'devastated' by brothers' drowning in sea

  • Published
Missing boysImage source, Lancashire Constabulary
Image caption,
Muhammad Azhar Shabbir, left, and his brother Ali Athar Shabbir got into difficulty in the sea

The family of two brothers who drowned while on a trip to the Lancashire coast said they were "absolutely devastated".

Muhammad Azhar Shabbir, 18, and Ali Athar Shabbir, 16, got into difficulties after they were cut off by the tide at St Annes on Saturday.

Their 15-year-old cousin was with them and managed to swim ashore but the brothers were found dead on Sunday.

The family, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, said it was an "extremely difficult time".

"Everyone is absolutely devastated by what has happened to Muhammad Azhar and Ali Athar," they said in a statement.

"The boys were extremely well liked and a promising future has tragically been cut short."

The brothers had both studied at Upper Batley High School, with Ali due to pick up his GCSEs on Thursday and expected to get good results.

Head teacher Samantha Vickers said: "We're absolutely devastated as a community to lose two of our young men.

"I've been inundated with messages from staff and students alike. These were two really popular young men, intelligent, respectful, well-mannered and family oriented.

"It's a huge loss this, people are really reeling from the shock and finding it hard to believe."

Image source, Southport Offshore Rescue Trust
Image caption,
Southport Offshore Rescue Trust said the youngsters had been cut off by the tide

The family were on a day trip when the three boys went into the water and got into difficulty.

The coastguard, RNLI and police called at about 18:40 BST and searches continued during the night and into the next day, using a drone and helicopter.

However, their bodies were found about a mile away from St Annes Pier on Sunday afternoon.

Nick Porter, a lifeboat coxswain with Southport Offshore Rescue Trust, said: "What started off as a family outing to the seaside on a nice day has turned into a tragedy.

"Our deepest sympathy goes out to them at this time."

Image caption,
The family were one of many who had gone to the coast to enjoy the warm weather

Iqbal Bhana MBE, deputy lord lieutenant for West Yorkshire, said the incident showed why young people needed to be reminded how to stay safe around water.

"We've seen so many tragedies of such nature in our community where young men who feel they're indestructible go out into the sea, into the lakes," he said.

The brother's cousin, who has not been named, has been treated for hypothermia in hospital.

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