Families criticise lack of lifeguards after five men died in Camber Sands beach tragedy

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The families of the five friends who died during a beach day trip have continued to question why no lifeguards were present.

Satthiyanathan Arumukam, 51, the father of brothers Ken, 19, and Kobi Nathan, 21, of Erith, south-east London, who died at Camber Sands, near Rye, East Sussex on Wednesday, said his children could not swim.

He told The Sun that his sons would have had a chance at survival if there had been lifeguards on the beach.

"I brought my children from Sri Lanka because it is not safe back there," Arumukam said.

Nitharsan Ravi (centre, holding football) , one of the five men who drowned in the sea at Camber Sands.

"But there were no lifeguards on the beach where they died. If there had been my sons would have at least had a fighting chance of survival."

Arumukam's sons died alongside three other men - all aged in their late teens and early 20s and from London.

The men, who have been named locally, include Inthushan Sri, 23, Nitharsan Ravi, 22, and a man named only as Kurushanth Srithavarajah, 26.

Nitharsan Ravi

Relatives of Ravi said they felt "very angry" at the lack of response from the authorities following the death of Gustavo Silva Da Cruz, 19, last month.

Clutching her brother's T-shirt, Ravi's sister Mayura sobbed as she remembered how he always looked out for her.

And the 17-year-old said the family felt anger that the stretch of beach where they died had not been blocked off following Da Cruz's death last month.

She said: "Now it's been blocked. Why didn't they do it before? They could have saved five other lives."

Nitharsan Ravi

Ravi's younger brother, Ajirthan, 19, said his brother had died after trying to rescue two of his friends who had become trapped underneath the water.

He said: "Ken and Inthushan got stuck in water.

"So what they do is the three boys try to save them."

He said attempts failed and Kurushanth was brought out first and declared dead straight away.

Police at Camber Sands

"My bro and Kobi had heartbeats and managed to survive for a few minutes but after first aid they couldn't recover."

Both died within 15 minutes after being pulled from the water, he said.

The bodies of Ken Nathan and Inthushan Sri were discovered later that evening, he said, adding that he thought they had got their legs caught in the "slippery mud" and sand on the sea bottom.

An online petition started a month ago to campaign for lifeguards at Camber has reached more than 3,600 signatures. Resident Emily Van Eyssen, 44, said the need for lifeguards was long overdue.

Police officers on Camber Sands near Rye.

A spokesman for Rother District Council said that, despite there being no lifeguards, there were summer patrols to advise people of potential dangers.

The five men had gone to the coast for a day trip, according to Sussex Police, as investigations continued into what caused their deaths.

Hannah Chatfield helped drag one of the men out of the water. She said: "Me and my boyfriend went to get him because the lifeguards were with the first guy. We were on the beach for about 45 minutes trying to resuscitate him but it didn't work."

Camber Sands near Rye.

Chief Superintendent Di Roskilly said: "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.

"We have no further reports of anyone else missing from Camber and there are no ongoing searches related to this incident.

"This has been an incredibly tragic incident and we are offering their next of kin support at this difficult time and our thoughts are with them."