Water safety warning as two boys drown in sea

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The Independent Online

Two boys drowned in the sea within half an hour of each other in separate incidents at the weekend as the Coastguard warned swimmers to beware strong winds and tides.

Liam Geary, 10, got into difficulties at the holiday resort of Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire, on Saturday. He was near where a man had drowned on Friday. Two passers-by pulled Liam, who was on holiday with his parents, to the beach after another boy shouted for help. The youngster, from Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, was flown by helicopter to the Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby, where he was declared dead.

Meanwhile, Jordan Moon, eight, who had been paddling at the water's edge about 100 miles further up the coast at Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool, was swept into the North Sea by a large wave at 2.45pm.

"He was with a friend, splashing around, when all of a sudden a wave came over him and washed him out to sea," said Sergeant Susan Knight of the Cleveland police. "One minute Jordan was there and the next, the friend turned around and he was gone."

Jordan was picked up by an RAF helicopter but died at the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough. "Despite efforts to resuscitate him on the way to hospital, he never regained consciousness," Sgt Knight said.

The Coastguard issued a warning for the south coast between Camber Sands in Kent and Portsmouth. It urged people not to swim alone and to take care because of the strong winds, which were likely to continue for several days. "Parents should keep children within reach at all times," a coastguard spokeswoman said.

Humber Coastguard warned holidaymakers to be on their guard because on-shore winds and high swells were causing a strong undertow in the area. "We have just come off the spring tides and have got high tides and a strong current," a spokesman said.

Safety campaigners estimate that 66 people have drowned in inland waters over the past month as they sought to cool off during the record-breaking heatwave. Last year, 426 people drowned, 264 of them in inland waters. The deaths in the past month alone are equivalent to a quarter of the annual average. Roger Vincent, a spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa), said this "appeared to be one of the worst summers in recent times".

Concern about swimming accidents over next week's bank holiday, which is traditionally one of the peak days for drowning incidents, is rising.

"The latest tragedies underline the significance of swimming on a properly supervised beach where you will be much safer. Beaches and rivers where there has traditionally been swimming are not always safe," he said.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institute warned boaters to carry safety equipment such as lifejackets, flares and a mobile phone, after several recent drownings in Scotland.

Fatal swimming accidents this summer have included the deaths of Sean Ridley, 37, and his son, Michael, 12, when their motorboat capsized in Loch Ryan, in the west of Scotland.

Most of the people who drown are males between 15 and 35, who tend to be strong swimmers but who get into difficulties because they are "showing off" or overestimate their swimming ability.

Other dangers also await unwary holidaymakers. According to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, more than 250 people were cut off by the tide, over 200 were trapped on cliffs and 53 got stuck in mud last year.

¿ Albert Marshall, 44, was swept out to sea by a wave while fishing from rocks at Ross Bay near Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway. The search was called off last night and will resume today.

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