UK heatwave: Drowning death toll rises to 24 after teenager found in river

The deaths occured in England and Northern Ireland, where temperatures have soared

Lamiat Sabin
Friday 23 July 2021 13:21
comments
<p>HM Coastguard, which calls on lifeboats to be deployed, has urged the public to use caution when swimming</p>

HM Coastguard, which calls on lifeboats to be deployed, has urged the public to use caution when swimming

At least 24 people have died from drowning in the UK during the heatwave over the past week.

The most recent victim was a 16-year-old boy who has yet to be formally identified. His body was found after a seven-hour search in the River Dee in Cheshire, where he is believed to have gone swimming on Thursday afternoon.

He has been named locally as Frank Varey, a boxer who has represented England in the European Championship. Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury wrote on his Instagram story: “RIP Frank. Was a future world champ.”

Bodies have been recovered from the sea, canals, flooded quarries, and rivers across England and Northern Ireland, leading charities to urge caution to those who want to cool off during the heatwave.

Both England and Northern Ireland have experienced temperatures exceeding 30C over the past week encouraging people to take to he water to cool off.

However, 24 people have died in lakes, rivers and the sea across the country since the warm weather began.

The deaths have lead the drowning prevention charity Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) and HM Coastguard to urge the public to use caution when entering bodies of water.

Lee Heard, the director of the drowning prevention charity Royal Life Saving Society UK, urged the public to use caution when entering water, and to get acclimatised to the temperature before jumping in.

He said: “The difference between the air temperature and water temperature can literally take your breath away; this is called cold water shock. It is silent, invisible and deadly.

“Water can also hide debris, strong currents and sudden changes in depth that can catch out even the strongest swimmers.”

Ahead of World Drowning Prevention Day on Sunday 25 July, Claire Hughes, director of HM Coastguard, said: “We can’t emphasise this enough – the sea has no respect for whether you’re local or not and whether you’re experienced or not.

“Please always check weather conditions and tide times before going out. The Coastguard will always respond to 999 and do all we can to get people home and safe.

“We’ve seen too many tragedies already this summer and we’re sad for those whose families have been left heartbroken by the loss.”

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments