Two more bodies have been found in the sea at Camber Sands, following three deaths at the East Sussex beach earlier today (24 August). The total death toll now stands at five and all are thought to have experienced difficulties while swimming, confirmed the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).
Three men were recovered by emergency rescue teams within 30 minutes of each other but no identifications have yet been made. Today's five fatalities bring the number of deaths around the UK coastline - within the past five days - to 12.
Helicopters, lifeboats, an air ambulance and rescue teams went to the beach at around 2.10pm BST after receiving reports of a man in difficulty in the water. On arrival, two other people were discovered to be in difficulty. The beach was packed with people at the time of the tragedy but was sealed off by Sussex Police following the incident.
Eyewitness Natalja Taylor, 30, told the BBC that conditions at the beach had been good. "It's pretty scary," she said. "I'm not sure how it happened. We decided not to go into the sea after seeing warning signs about some kind of fish. It wasn't particularly windy down there, it was just a hot, sunny beach day."
Sussex Police Chief Superintendent Di Roskilly said: "We are working with Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Royal National Lifeboat Institute, South East Coast Ambulance and Rother District Council to clear the beach and encourage people to come out of the sea while we are investigating this incident.
"This has been an incredibly tragic situation and very traumatic for those who were there on the beach at the time. At this stage we do not know who the men are and are doing all we can to establish their identities," Roskilly continued:
Late this evening, the RNLI confirmed two more bodies had been recovered. The tragedy came as two-year-old Mckayla Bruynius died at Bristol Hospital five days after being swept into the sea with her father Rudy, who also died.
Five other people died in swimming-related incidents over the weekend. 37-year-old Julie Walker and her six-year-old son Lucas, got into difficulty in Aberdeen. A windsurfer in his 60s died off the coast of Essex and a woman in her twenties died in Jersey. A man died at Sandbanks on Saturday.
A spokesperson from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) warned people to be careful when swimming in the sea. "The sea may look appealing and the RNLI would encourage people to use it, but do so safely – it can be dangerously unpredictable," said the spokesperson.