Life guards at the beach in Ostend yesterday rescued five youths in difficulty at a spot where a 17-year-old drowned ten days ago.
The incident took place in the area of the Westelijke Strekdam, a long curved pier that stretches some 800m out to sea.
At about that same spot on 12 August, a 17-year-old youth (originally described as 16 years old) got into difficulties and after a three-hour search involving boats and a helicopter was found drowned.
Yesterday’s problems involved five youths in three separate incidents that all took place within 15 minutes of each other.
“Life guards noticed a swimmer in trouble near the Kursaal,” said deputy chief guard Levy Meyer, referring to the resort casino.
“The swimmer was stranded on a sandbank and could no longer reach the beach under his own power. Two lifeguards retrieved the young man.”
Another incident involved two more youths.
“Our guards had hardly got into the water when other rescuers had to intervene right next to where their colleagues were rescuing two drowning people at the same time. In total, five swimmers were taken out of the water in just fifteen minutes. Thanks to the rapid intervention of the rescuers, the five were quickly helped ashore,” said Meyer.
During the interventions the red flag was raised for people on the beach, because life guards were occupied with so many incidents at one time, and safety could no longer be guaranteed. However as soon as the victims had been brought to shore, the green flag could once again be flown.
By that time, three of the youths were transported to hospital by ambulance for a routine check-up.