Four drownings blight beautiful May day Bank Holiday

Four people were drowned at separate Portuguese beaches on the May 1 Bank Holiday.

Two of the deaths came in Nazaré, the beach renowned for its ‘killer surf waves’.

The third death was a 32-year-old swimmer off the Costa Caparica, and the fourth was an Austrian woman struck by strong waves as she was walking along the coast with her husband near Póvoa de Varzim.

In the aftermath of the tragedies, Lisbon ports commander Paulo Isabel has stressed that the sea right now still has “the energy of the winter”, despite balmy summer temperatures.

People need to be extra vigilant, particularly as the ‘lifeguard season’ – along with the official bathing season – is still a month away.

As for the sequence of the tragedies, they began early afternoon on Mayday – first sweeping Spanish pensioners Félix Álvaro and Ana Maria da la Cruz Velsaco from Nazaré beach.

Local ports captain Paulo Agostinho told journalists that it was “a highly dangerous” point of the notorious beach.

Ana Maria was actually rescued from the waves alive, but she died of heart failure shortly afterwards, while the body of her companion was not recovered for almost two hours.

In Costa Caparica, three swimmers were caught up by the current off Rainha beach. Surfers managed to reach them all and bring them back to shore, but the eldest member of the group – aged just 32 – died of heart failure in hospital.

The other two – both described as aged 26 – were reported to be suffering from hypothermia.

In Lagoa at A-Ver-O-Mar, Póvoa de Varzim, a strong wave dragged the Austrian couple into the water. The man however was rescued by an offduty lifeguard who witnessed the incident and ran to help.

Hugo Lourenço did not manage to reach the 60-year-old woman however, whose body was spotted later by a paraglider, and retrieved shortly afterwards.

According to reports, Lourenço required psychological support after his heroic rescue.

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