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Friday, 7 September, 2001, 14:58 GMT 15:58 UK
Surfers drown off Cornish coast
Warning flags fly on Holywell Beach
Warning flags fly on Holywell Beach
Two holidaymakers, believed to be a father and son, have died after being swept out to sea off the coast of north Cornwall.

The men, believed to be from Stoke-on-Trent, were bodyboarding when they got into difficulties at Holywell Bay near the village of Cubert, five miles south of Newquay.

They had become separated from their boards and were about 300 yards from the shore.

They were thought to have been caught in a rip tide - strong channels of water which move back out to sea after being pushed ashore by waves.

One of them was floating face down in the water in quite disturbed seas

Chris Townrow
Newquay coastguard
Falmouth coastguards scrambled a Royal Navy rescue helicopter after an onlooker ran to a phone box and dialled 999 at 1905BST on Thursday.

The person who raised the alarm spotted the boards being washed onto the beach, Martin Bidmead, coastguard watch assistant at the Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre at Falmouth told BBC News Online.

"They were the sort of fun boards that are popular with people on holiday - the sort you lie on and ride in on the waves in the shallower water," he said.

Surfers' attention

"We don't know why the men became separated from their boards, whether they lost hold of them or threw them ahead intending to swim in after them."

The men, aged 50 and 21, were winched on board the helicopter but, despite efforts to resuscitate them, were pronounced dead on arrival at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.

These rip currents exist on a lot of beaches in Cornwall

Simon Rabett
Falmouth Coastguard
Chris Townrow, deputy station officer at Newquay coastguard, said the rescue team had been on scene within eight minutes of receiving the call from Falmouth.

"When we arrived there were several people on the beach shouting and waving and trying to get the attention of surfers to help the two bodyboarders.

"One of them was floating face down in the water in quite disturbed seas.

"He kept disappearing under breaking water. We did our very best - but unfortunately we were not successful."

'Windy and messy'

The men were believed to be on holiday in the area with other members of their family and more relatives are travelling to Cornwall.

Formal identification is expected on Friday afternoon, said a spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police.

Newquay surfboard-maker Ben Ridding, 19, said: "The conditions were windy and messy."

Experienced surfers would not have gone out, he added.

Mr Ridding said the quiet beach was used mainly by people from the area.

Falmouth coastguard watch manager Simon Rabett warned: "These rip currents exist on a lot of beaches in Cornwall."

"Our thoughts are with the families affected by this double tragedy."

Chris Townrow, Newquay Coastguard
described what happened
See also:

07 Sep 01 | UK
Surfing's hidden dangers
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