February 21, 2024

A brother and sister reportedly drowned while trying to swim off the Irish coast on Thursday.

The 50-year-old man and 62-year-old woman were pronounced dead after being pulled from the water at Ballybunion Beach, County Kerry in southwest Ireland.

The incident has been described as a “horrific tragedy” and autopsies are due to take place on the brothers soon.

Emergency services were called to the beach on Thursday afternoon after being alerted by what is believed to be a teenage relative of the brothers.

In a statement, the Irish Coastguard said the report was received shortly after 5pm of a person in difficulty in Ballybunion.

“A full-scale search and rescue operation was completed with the Shannon-based Coastguard R115 helicopter, Ballybunion Community Rescue Boat Ireland and Kilrush RNLI attending the scene,” the statement said.

“A short time later a second person was pulled from the water by Ballybunion Community Rescue Boat Ireland.

“The man and woman were pronounced dead at the scene. The search was called off after it was confirmed that no other people were missing.

“The Coast Guard expresses its condolences to the family of the two victims.”

Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan said the deaths were a “desperate tragedy” and offered his “sincere condolences to the families” of those who died and any witnesses.

“From our point of view here in Co Limerick, Ballybunion is an extension of our own place,” the Limerick TD told RTE’s Today with Claire Byrne Show.

“We know this place intimately. Some of my own extended family were in Ballybunion and saw the commotion that unfolded.

“It is a desperate tragedy. And there’s really nothing that can put into words the gloom that’s going on right now around north Kerry and west Limerick.”

Local Sinn Fein councilor Robert Beasley described the incident as a “horrific tragedy” which has shaken the community.

The councillor, who lives near Ballybunion beach, told the PA news agency: “There were a lot of people on the beach at the time, maybe 600 people or 700 people.

“I met many people on the top of the rock, and when they realized what was happening men, women and children fled with their multitudes and were in terrible distress.

“An hour and a half ago, when I passed by, people were happy, building sandcastles and generally having fun on the beach.

“Two deaths within minutes in the water. It is terrible – a terrible tragedy. The world is beyond shocked.”

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