Drownings highlight sea dangers

By ELOÏSE WALTON [email protected]

Recent accidents have highlighted the dangers of the sea and coast across the country. This week there was a drowning at an Algarve beach and the disappearance of a child in northern Portugal, but new government legislation has approved the shortening of the official bathing season for almost half the beaches in the country.

A 20-year-old Polish man died at Odeceixe beach in Aljezur after being dragged out to sea with three friends by a strong current on Sunday morning.

The man’s body was found at around 1.30pm and taken to the legal medical institute in Portimão.

Of the three friends, who were rescued by locals, two women were taken to Barlavento hospital and one man to Lagos hospital, before being released the same day, according to hospital spokesmen. 

Commander Marques Pereira, spokesman for the Algarve’s maritime authority said that maritime police, the fire brigade and a civil protection helicopter were involved in the rescue.

Commander Marques Pereira added: “If people visit beaches that they do not know, they should ask local residents and fishermen about the beaches’ characteristics and their dangers.”

He added that people should take extra care when visiting beaches that are not supervised by life guards.

In a separate incident, a four-year-old boy was dragged out to sea by a freak wave on Quebrada beach in Matosinhos, northern Portugal, on the same afternoon while playing football with his father and three cousins on the beach.

According to Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manhã the boy, who is the nephew of Portuguese footballer Simão Sabrosa, was dragged out to sea along with his father and cousins as they attempted to retrieve their football. The boy’s father managed to rescue the three cousins but was unable to save his own son who disappeared.

A helicopter, search and rescue dog team, navy patrol boat, local boats and the fire brigade were all involved in the search for the missing child throughout Sunday.

At the time of going to press on Wednesday, searches for the boy continued.

Despite these accidents, which have coincided with improved weather conditions, the security at 183 maritime beaches across the country will be reduced by one month this year.

If you are unsure whether the beach you are planning to visit is supervised, please contact the local Câmara for the dates of their official bathing season, to know when lifeguards will be present.

Top beach safety tips

The following safety tips are recommended by the Portuguese navy:

• Visit supervised beaches.

• Respect the beach flag colour.

• Respect instructions from life guards.

• Never swim against the current.

• Don’t swim too far out to sea, swim parallel to the shore.

• Constantly monitor your children on the beach and their distance from you.

• Swim in the company of someone else.

• In case of panic, do not hesitate to ask for help immediately.

• Never jump from the cliffs into the water unless it is a supervised area that is designated for that activity.

• In case of emergency, telephone 112 immediately.

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