20-year-old army recruit ‘missing’ after wave slams into group on sea shore

20-year-old army recruit ‘missing’ after wave slams into group on sea shore

Youngsters were by water’s edge in spite of official weather warnings in place

Air and sea searches are taking place off Praia da Lagoa, in Póvoa de Varzim, this morning after waves dragged a group of young army recruits into the water in the early hours, leaving one – a 20-year-woman – missing, feared drowned.

Seven of the youngsters managed to get out of the water by their own means, explain reports.

Why the group had decided to go so close to the water’s edge will be at the forefront of investigations today. Weather warnings have been in place since Wednesday advising citizens to keep away from all accesses to the sea – even from jetties and pontoons (where a fatal accident took place only yesterday).

But this morning focus is on trying to locate the missing soldier.

According to reports, the young people had been out for the evening, socialising – and had decided to go down to the sea after leaving a nightspot.

A statement put out by the army explains: “the details of the incident that occurred on the coast are not known for the moment”, but “a soldier is missing at sea and 7 others were transported to a hospital unit by the Póvoa de Varzim Bombeiros Voluntários (fire department)”.

The group is understood to have been taking part in training at the nearby Escola de Serviço – albeit they were ‘off duty’ at the time.

It is unclear from initial reports whether army superiors had sanctioned the ‘night out’.

In its statement, the army has lamented the incident, stressing an investigation to establish exactly what happened was “immediately opened”.

The soldiers involved, as well as family members of the missing recruit, are all receiving psychological support provided by the army.

Correio da Manhã today (published before this latest incident) has reported that five bodies were recovered from the water in the space of 24-hours between Wednesday and late Thursday.

One of these was the Sines port worker, dragged into the sea by a wave as he operated heavy machinery on a jetty; another was a port worker in Darque, Viana do Castelo; the three others were of two men and a woman who had ‘gone missing’ in recent days.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com