Four people drown as Britain basks in the heat

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The Independent Online

Four people drowned at the weekend after taking to the water during sweltering heat, which saw temperatures in the south of England beat Miami Beach's 32C.

Four people drowned at the weekend after taking to the water during sweltering heat, which saw temperatures in the south of England beat Miami Beach's 32C.

The body of a boy, aged 16, who had been swimming yesterday with a friend in the river Thames in Sunbury, Surrey, was pulled from the water after he got into difficulties in the middle of the river. His friend was rescued by a nearby boat owner and was treated for shock.

In Devon, a man aged 23 drowned yesterday after getting into difficulties off Anstys Cove Beach at Babbacombe, a popular venue for all-night beach parties. The local man, who had camped nearby with friends, jumped off rocks into the sea - a practice known as "tombstoning" - at about 7.30am.

In Milton Keynes, a man aged 35 drowned on Saturday night as he tried to swim across a lake with a friend. He was found several hours after he vanished beneath the surface of the lake - just a mile from the Milton Keynes Bowl, where a pop concert was being held.

Police, firefighters and paramedics were called to the lake, along with a police helicopter which used its thermal imaging camera to find the missing man.

In Stevenage, Hertfordshire, a man drowned in front of his young family and friends when he tried to swim across a boating lake. The 30-year-old had spent Friday evening with his wife, children and friends by the lake. More than 400 people were on the waterfront when he got into difficulty in the cold water. A spokesman for Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Ambulance Service said several people tried to help the man but no one could find him.

Police warned about the dangers of swimming in unsupervised stretches of water. Detective Inspector Neil Smith said: "We would like to warn the public that they should not attempt to swim in unsupervised stretches of water. We appreciate the temptation with the weather getting hotter, but the dangers are not always appreciated."

Yesterday's temperatures beat this year's high of 31.9C in London on 27 May, with the mercury rising to 33C in the capital. But it was still some way off the record high of 38.1C reached in 2003.

The heatwave failed to deter 27,000 cyclists taking part in the 58-mile London to Brighton bike ride which set off at 5.30am yesterday. Only a handful did not complete the race, which raises money for the British Heart Foundation. The heat made it difficult for some cyclists on the roads where it appeared the tarmac had melted.

Elsewhere, thousands of sunseekers fled to Britain's beaches, while some were seen dipping a toe into the murky Thames at London's South Bank.

Temperatures are expected to ease today, with a high risk of thunderstorms across the country.

While temperatures in England and Wales are expected to drop to 23C to 29C today, forecasters say temperatures will increase again towards Thursday.

However northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are expecting unsettled weather with the risk of rain.