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Coroner to look at measures to prevent further deaths at Camber Sands beach

PUBLISHED: 09:35 02 November 2016

The coffins of Kenugen Saththiyanathan and his brother Kobikanthan Saththiyanathan are loaded onto horse drawn carrages to be taken to the crematorium after the funeral on Winn's Common Park in London. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The coffins of Kenugen Saththiyanathan and his brother Kobikanthan Saththiyanathan are loaded onto horse drawn carrages to be taken to the crematorium after the funeral on Winn's Common Park in London. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Two men from Erith and one from Welling were among five people to die at the beach earlier this year

Mourners viewing the open coffin of Gurushanth Srithavarajah who died at Camber Sands, near Rye in East Sussex. Jonathan Brady/PA WireMourners viewing the open coffin of Gurushanth Srithavarajah who died at Camber Sands, near Rye in East Sussex. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

A coroner said he owes it “to the community” to investigate what public safety measures could be used at a beach where five young friends died during a day trip.

East Sussex coroner Alan Craze spoke during a pre-inquest review into the deaths of the men at Camber Sands, near Hastings, East Sussex, in August.

Kenugen Saththiyanathan, 18, his brother Kobikanthan Saththiyanathan, 22, both of Normandy Way, Erith and Welling’s Gurushanth Srithavarajah, 27, were among the young men who died.

Sitting in Hastings, Mr Craze said there might be a case to moor boats at sea during busy periods at the popular beach, which can attract up to 30,000 day-trippers in the summer.

And Mr Craze suggested writing to other local authorities to learn more about how “Baywatch towers” based on beaches can help monitor visitors.

The coroner said he also wanted to hear expert evidence at the full inquest into what public safety measures would be practical and recommendable, including the possibility of having sections of the beach for swimming only.

Mr Craze said: “The provision of safety for the vast numbers of people that go to Camber is now an extremely important matter, and I owe it to the community as a whole to investigate as far as I conceivably can do.”

Families of the five men who died in August attended the hearing and learned that the full inquest may take place at Eastbourne Town Hall.

A date and time-scale were not formally fixed, and a decision on whether the inquest will be heard in front of a jury was deferred.

Patrick Roche, representing the families, told the hearing there had been four deaths and seven “near-deaths” at Camber in the past four years.

He also disclosed that only one witness had come forward following the tragedy of the five men. Mr Roche suggested issuing a witness appeal to bring more forward.

Mr Craze said he would write to Sussex Police Chief Superintendent Di Roskilly, the gold commander on the day of the incident, about it.

The coroner also asked for input from the families ahead of the full inquest, including disclosures about the victims’ command of English, the extent to which they could swim and any other relevant factors.

Concluding the hearing, he turned to the relatives and said: “None of us forget the extent of the tragedy that they have gone through.”

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