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Swimming deaths at beach were a ‘tragic accident’, inquest hears

PUBLISHED: 19:55 17 February 2020 | UPDATED: 19:55 17 February 2020

The two siblings died in hospital following the incident at Clacton  Picture: JAKE FOXFORD

The two siblings died in hospital following the incident at Clacton Picture: JAKE FOXFORD

Archant

The mother of two teenagers who died in a “tragic accident” when they got into difficulty off the sea at Clacton Pier has said she wants to ensure “an incident like this does not occur in the future”.

Shagufta Shamas told a coroner that she wanted to ensure safety precautions were in place for the future after the deaths of Malika Shamas, 14, and her brother Haider Ali, 18, on a family trip to the Essex seaside resort.

An inquest into the pair's deaths heard how they had to be pulled from the water after getting into difficulty near Clacton Pier at around 1.40pm on August 8 last year.

A female cousin was also rescued from the sea and survived.

The trio, along with another cousin, had been playing a game to see how far they could go from shore.

Malika died of immersion while her brother died two days later of pneumonia, brain damage and drowning, the hearing in Chelmsford on Monday (February 17) was told.

Mrs Shamas said: "I also entered the water to try to help some of the children.

"I was clinging on to this precious life.

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"The sand underneath my feet was giving way and I was trying to reach this little girl. This happened within minutes.

"Should there not have been signs in this particular area saying that you should not go in and that this is what can occur?"

Essex's senior coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray said she was minded to write a prevention of future death report, dealing with the quality of warning signs near the scene.

Some warning signs could be in a larger print, she said.

She added that after a suggestion from Mrs Shamas, the signs should appear in a child-friendly format.

The court heard that there was a warning sign on a nearby flood defence which said: "Danger, no bathing due to varying depths of water."

However, the coroner noted that you had to be quite close to read it.

The area where the accident happened was just out of range of the nearest beach patrol, which was about 375m away.

The coroner said the court was "very mindful" that Easter is not far away and was "most concerned" that safety improvements are made before the holiday.

She ruled that the deaths of the Shamas siblings, which happened little more than a year after 15-year-old Ben Quartermaine drowned near the pier, were the result of an accident.

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