Drafted in to help protect earlybird beachgoers after four drownings in one day, Air Force marines were kept on their toes over the weekend, preventing situations that could have developed into new tragedies as a result of treacherous seas.
As tabloid Correio da Manhã explains, the trained military lifeguards were out patrolling the five west coast beaches where people died during the recent Mayday Bank Holiday (click here).
On Costa da Caparica, five young children – all of them around the age of seven – had to be withdrawn from the waterline, as strong waves were coming in.
Explains CM, the youngsters were “ignoring the danger” that swept three adults to their deaths in a matter of hours on May 1.
Parents were informed, and “tragedy averted”, said the paper, while “not far away” a group of Chinese holidaymakers had to be removed from their positions at the water’s edge, “trying to take a good photograph”.
As one local explained, “the minimum distraction” with currents at play can result in danger.
“That is why people died on May 1”, added Fernanda Pereira – welcoming authorities’ decision to call in the marines.
The beaches given special attention last weekend were Caparica, Nazaré and Ericeira – the last being the spot where a 23-year-old disappeared after taking a swim on May 3.
Paulo Soares’s body has still not been found.
Meantime, Lisbon ports commander José Isabel has guaranteed that sea patrols throughout the country are being “reinforced” as the official lifeguard season is still over three weeks away.
Whether these intermediary actions will force authorities to bring the official bathing season forwards in future remains to be seen.