Inquest conclusions due on Camber Sands deaths

Updated: 

A coroner is expected to record conclusions on Friday into the deaths of seven men, including five young friends, who drowned at a popular south coast beach last summer.

Tragedy struck as Mohit Dupar, 36, tried to reach Brazilian Gustavo Silva Da Cruz, 19, as he got into difficulty at Camber Sands, near Rye, East Sussex, last July 24 - but both died.

Then a month later, five young friends aged 18 to 27, who lived in the London area and were of Sri Lankan origin, drowned at the same beach after being seen playing volleyball in the sea on August 24 last year.

Nine deaths have occurred at Camber in the four years from 2012 - including the seven last summer.

Lifeguards were not deployed until after the five deaths last August, despite recommendations from the RNLI to do so three years earlier.

Dr Anthony Leonard, executive director at Rother District Council, said the authority's decision in 2013 was balanced against other factors known at the time and that, with statutory obligations to fund, it did not have a "bottomless pit" of money.

A five-day inquest in Hastings heard the five men were all fit, healthy and competent swimmers when they died on a sunny day last August - but beneath the surface at Camber Sands lurked "hidden dangers".

Although rip currents were not a known problem, Camber did have sandbars that could catch people out if the tide came in rapidly, sometimes causing people to wade through water to reach shore, the inquest heard.

Beach-goer Stephen Deacon told how he felt "unnerved" by the underwater sea conditions on the day the five friends drowned at the beach, which can attract more than 25,000 visitors in peak season.

The five friends who died last August 24 were Kenugen Saththiyanathan, 18, known as Ken, and his brother Kobikanthan Saththiyanathan, 22, known as Kobi, both of Normandy Way, Erith, south-east London, and their friends Nitharsan Ravi, 22, of Admaston Road, Plumstead, south-east London, Inthushan Sriskantharasa, 23, of Chadwell Road, Grays, Essex, and Gurushanth Srithavarajah, 27, of Elsa Road, Welling, south-east London.

The inquest into the death of Mr Dupar and Mr Da Cruz was adjourned until the start of the inquest into the five deaths.

East Sussex senior coroner Alan Craze is also due to record conclusions into their deaths.