Camber Sands: 'Increase in non-British visitors' to deaths beach

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image captionCamber Sands had no lifeguard cover before the deaths of the seven men last summer

The changing demographics of visitors to Camber Sands in the years before seven men drowned have been highlighted at an inquest into their deaths.

An incident log by a beach safety officer after two of the men died last July noted an increase in the level of naivety among beach-goers.

Robert Cass stated "predominantly non-British visitors" were not taking their personal safety seriously enough.

The hearing is also considering the deaths of five friends a month later.

Mr Cass pointed to large groups of people from ethnic communities travelling to the East Sussex beach from London, causing beach staff to take "adaptive measures".

He told the coroner, Alan Craze, he thought it was important for people to be educated about beach safety before they arrived.

"The most valuable form of engagement is verbal interaction," he added.

He told the coroner he feared another tragedy at Camber Sands.

The inquest in Hastings also heard the RNLI had recommended lifeguards be stationed on Camber Sands three years before last summer's deaths.

The charity carried out a risk assessment in 2013 after a death and a number of near misses in 2012.

The hearing learned that the RNLI had offered to deploy lifeguards, but the offer was not taken up.

It was also told about another death at the beach in 2015.

Before the deaths of the seven men, Camber Sands had no lifeguard cover.

Beach patrol staff's tasks included reuniting lost children with parents and dealing with lost property.

Mr Cass was asked why the recommendation that lifeguards be deployed was not acted upon.

He replied: "That was a decision made over my head."

Mr Cass compared his position to that of a police constable using resources given to him by his superiors.

On Tuesday, the inquest heard a request to the RNLI to provide lifeguards made 16 days before the five friends' death was rejected by the charity because of a lack of resources.

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image caption"Competent swimmer" Nitharsan Ravi was studying aeronautical engineering at Brighton

Camber Sands victims

Kenugen Saththiyanathan, 18, known as Ken, died alongside his brother Kobikanthan Saththiyanathan, 22, known as Kobi, both from Erith, south east London.

Their three friends, who also died on 24 August, were Nitharsan Ravi, 22, from Plumstead, Inthushan Sriskantharasa, 23, from Grays, Essex, and Gurushanth Srithavarajah, 27, from Welling.

The inquest has previously heard all five were fit, healthy and competent swimmers, with some having visited the beach at Camber before without incident.

On 24 July, Mohit Dupar, 36, from Hayes, west London, attempted to reach Brazilian Gustavo Silva Da Cruz, 19, after he got into difficulty.

Mr Silva Da Cruz died at the scene. Mr Dupar died in hospital four days later.

The deaths prompted calls for improved safety at Camber, resulting in Rother District Council agreeing in February to allocate £51,000 in its 2017/18 budget to bring in seasonal lifeguard cover from this summer.

But council officials have said the beach, which is three miles (4.8km) long and nearly half-a-mile (700m) wide at low tide, could never be completely risk-free.

The inquest continues.

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