As many as 879 people, most of which were children, went missing on the Belgian coast in July, nearly as many as in the entire summer of 2021. according to the Inter-municipal Rescue Services of the Coast of West Flanders (IKWV).
During the first month of this year's summer vacation, around 900 people were lost along Belgium's seaside. Almost twice as much as in July of last year, and more than in prior years (389 in 2020 and 560 in 2019).
To find a larger number, one has to go back to July 2018, when 1,100 people were lost at the seaside.
The IKWV have indicated that those who are most often lost are children, but there were also cases of senior citizens or disabled adults who were lost.
Bert Gunst, the company's president, has warned parents not to leave their children unattended or to have them wear anti-disappearance bracelets.
These wristbands are available at tourist offices and public restrooms, and are distributed to parents by beach rescue teams.
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“The priority of lifeguards is to ensure the safety of swimmers and people who practice water sports, as well as tourists who become unwell or injured," Gunst explained.
"However, if their attention is regularly diverted by panicked parents because their children have gone missing," he added, "then they can no longer devote themselves fully to these tasks and dangerous situations may arise.”