Three die in tragic afternoon on Portuguese beaches

Authorities stress “weather may be glorious but sea isn’t…”

Three people lost their lives on beaches in Portugal yesterday afternoon – tragedies that highlight the still potentially treacherous conditions of the sea.

Authorities have stressed the importance of being extra careful over the Easter holidays. Winter seas in Portugal continue long after the weather has ‘changed’ to a summertime feel, and this means riptides are commonplace.

Yesterday’s deaths involved a father and his seven year old daughter in Praia da Foz, close to their home in Alfarim, Meco (Sesimbra borough), as well as a 17-year-old boy on Praia de Matosinhos.

The circumstances of the first incident appear to have involved the daughter being ‘swept into the sea while paddling’ and her father rushing into the water to save her.

The horror played out in full view of the child’s mother/ man’s wife who received support by INEM psychologists after the bodies of her loved ones had to be recovered with the use of a helicopter as they had been washed into an area of rocks.

In Matosinhos, the 17-year-old was one of a group of friends who ‘got into difficulties’ after entering the water. According to reports, he didn’t know how to swim, thus was incapable of saving himself.

With so many people (including foreign holidaymakers) in Portugal for the Easter holidays, the message is ‘be exceptionally careful of the sea: the majority of beaches are ‘unsupervised’ as this is not the official bathing season; lifeguards do not start working until late May/ early June. Children must be watched at all times if paddling or even by the water’s edge, and “no-one should ever turn their backs on the sea”.

By bittersweet coincidence the helicopter scrambled to try and find the 17-year-old after he went missing off Matosinhos beach was diverted following reports of two other teens in difficulties in Azurara beach, Vila do Conde. Those on board arrived in time to save both.

The western coastline of Portugal is always much more treacherous than the south, but southern beaches also suffer from riptides at this time of year.

Bottom line: do not take any risks.

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