Camber Sands deaths: Four of five bodies identified after 'unexplained' Sussex drownings

'There are no massive rip currents. It’s all very much unexplained,' says an RNLI worker on the East Sussex coast

Jess Staufenberg
Thursday 25 August 2016 23:49
Camber Sands: Video shows concerned crowd as men pulled from the sea

Four of the five young men who died on an idyllic beach in East Sussex have been named after an "unexplained" drowning.

Nitharsan Ravi, Inthushan Sri, Kenigan Nathan and the latter's brother Kobi Nathan have been identified by Sussex Police as men aged in their late teens and early 20s from southeast London who got into difficulty at Camber Sands.

Five men, thought to be in their late tweens and early twenties from London, died in total in circumstances which belied the calm sea and shallow waters in the area.

Nitharsan Ravi is the first of the group of young men who died while in the sea at Camber Sanders to be identified

Another young man has reportedly been named locally as Kurushanth Anna, although this is yet to be officially confirmed. All are believed to be good friends from Sri Lankan communities in the capital.

The tragic incident unfolded throughout the afternoon as first three men, and later two more men, were pulled from the water after being spotted by a member of the public on 24 August.

They have now been identified after an operation involving the HM Coastguard, local council, rescue helicopter, RNLI lifeboat and emergency services - which sadly could not save their lives. No lifeguards are posted on the beach.

Kenigan Nathan was 19 and his brother Kobi Nathan was 22 years old, and their friend Nitharsan Ravi was also aged 22.

Tributes poured into the young men's Facebook accounts as their names were published in the Daily Mail and The Sun.

Kenigan Nathan and his brother both died in the East Sussex sea

Di Roskilly, chief superintendent of Sussex Police, said all the men had been in appropriate beachwear such as swimming trunks and shorts.

Media reports that the men may have got into trouble with jellyfish, or were "fully clothed" and may have been migrants, were both unfounded, a spokesperson for Sussex Police told The Independent.

"We believe we now know who the men are and that they came to the beach together for the day," Chief Superintendent Roskilly said.

"We believe they are all in their late teens and early 20s and come from the Greater London area.

"These men were not fully clothed when they were pulled from the sea but wearing clothes appropriate for being at the beach for the day."

Sussex Police said reports that the men were "fully clothed" or migrants were unfounded

The first body was found at about 2.10pm on the stretch of beach renowned for its natural beauty close to Hastings and Rye. Another young man was seen in difficulty and then a third person spotted, yet all three were pronounced dead a short time later. The bodies of two more young men were then found in the water between 8.15pm and 8.45pm that evening.

No lifeguards are posted to the beach, Rother District Council confirmed with The Independent, but the beach patrol were alerted and the coastguard was called. Beach patrol staff advise people about danger in the water but cannot perform sea rescues.

An RNLI lifeboat from Rye Harbour, as well as rescue helicopter and emergency services, were dispatched to the scene.

The sea around Camber Sands has no especially dangerous features and the deaths remain "very much unexplained", said an RNLI worker positioned further up the coast.

“There are no deep shelves there and the beach is known to be very, very safe,” they told The Independent.

“And there are no massive rip currents. It’s all very much unexplained. If you see photographs of the sea at the time, it’s very calm.

“It might be they had medical conditions, or they were very hot and got cold water shock – we just don’t know."

The beach can be packed with up to 25,000 people at its busiest period, said Rother District Council

It is the second time a serious incident has taken place recently at Camber Sands. In July, a 19-year-old Brazilian Gustavo Silva da Cruz died after getting into difficulty while swimming in the sea.

A 35-year-old man and his 17-year-old son, not connected to Mr Da Cruz, also got into difficultly in the water.

Up to 25,000 people can be found on the beach at its most popular periods, said a Rother District Council spokesperson.

More people have started visiting who may not be familiar with the area, they added.

“Although it’s too early to draw any conclusions from this latest incident, in recent years we have seen a change in the make-up of visitors to Camber, including more people from outside the area who are not familiar with the sea and the dangers it can pose," they said in a statement..

“This has included visitors entering the sea although they’re not able to swim and in some cases entering the water fully clothed. We will continue to work with the emergency services and other colleagues to do more in educating people of the dangers of the sea.”

Commentators on social media have asked why no lifeguards were present at the beach. The district council carries out assessments of the area and has concluded that it has decided none are needed.

"Regular assessments are carried out at Camber beach, along with the RNLI, to inform what measures need to be taken to guide visitor safety and ensure the beach is safe," said a Rother District Council spokesperson in a statement.

"To date this has not identified the need for lifeguards to be deployed at the beach and there have never been lifeguards employed at the beach."

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