Friday 23 March 2018

Five friends drowned on beach trip 'could have been saved'

Police on Camber Sands near Rye, East Sussex, after five men died on the hottest day of the year. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA
Police on Camber Sands near Rye, East Sussex, after five men died on the hottest day of the year. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA

Lydia Willgress

The grief-stricken family of one of the five victims of the Camber Sands drowning tragedy has said they would not have died if lifeguards had been on duty at the time.

Nitharsan Ravi (22), a former aeronautical engineering student, died alongside four of his childhood friends, while swimming in the sea at the popular Sussex resort on the hottest day of the year.

He and his friends, Kurushanth Srithavarajah (27), brothers, Kenigan and Kobi Nathan, aged 19 and 22, and Inthushan Sriskantharasa (23), who were all of Sri Lankan origin, had driven to Camber Sands from their homes in south-east London on Wednesday afternoon to take advantage of the fine weather.

But within minutes of entering the water two of the men got into difficulties and the other three went to try to help them.

It is thought they may have fallen into deep channels, known as sandbars, which had been made even more treacherous by the weekend storms.

Despite being able to swim, they were unable to reach ­safety and were overcome by the ­rising tide.

Their deaths come just weeks after a 19-year-old Brazilian, Gustavo Silva Da Cruz, died in the same area and Nitharsan's family said there should have been more warnings for bathers, with lifeguards on duty to help those who got into trouble.

Nitharsan's younger brother Ajithan Ravi, said: "Ken and Inthushan got stuck under the water in the mud and sand and their three friends went under the water to try and save them. But all five of them got into difficulty and sadly died."

He added: "My brother could swim just like the rest of them could, but because of the strong tide it wore them out easily. A lifeguard could have saved their lives."

His uncle Kugan Gianarathinam also questioned the lack of safety provisions in the area.

He said: "There needs to be more lifeguards at Camber Sands. They say it's one of the safest beaches in Britain but it's a lie, Nitharsan and his friends are dead.

"They also need to put up more signs warning of the dangers. It is not safe for anybody."

Yesterday, Sussex Police reported newspaper columnist Katie Hopkins to Twitter for carrying out an offensive poll about the men's deaths.

The reality TV star asked Twitter followers to complete the sentence "5 dead at Camber Sands were..."

Her online poll gave the ­answers as: "Aspiring footballers", "Mentally ill", "Fans of Anders Brevik" and "Big fans of inflatables".

Irish Independent

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