Five surfers die in Dutch beach tragedy

Rescue workers stand in rough waters during the resumed search for missing water sports participants in The North Sea at Scheveningen, The Netherlands, on May 12, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 12 May 2020

Five surfers die in Dutch beach tragedy

  • Two victims were pulled from the sea late Monday but died despite efforts to resuscitate them – three more bodies were discovered on Tuesday
  • Pictures from the scene showed rescue helicopters using their rotor blades to blow away a thick layer of sea foam near Scheveningen harbor entrance

THE HAGUE: Five surfers died after getting into difficulty in “avalanche-like” sea foam caused by stormy conditions off a popular Dutch beach, police and witnesses said Tuesday.
Rescue workers retrieved the bodies after a major search following the incident on Monday at Scheveningen, a suburb of The Hague that borders the North Sea.
Two victims were pulled from the sea late Monday but died despite efforts to resuscitate them. Three more bodies were discovered on Tuesday.
Two of the surfers were internationally-trained life guards and had worked in Australia, The Hague’s “alternative mayor” Pat Smith said.
“They were busy training. They then disappeared under the foam like it was some sort of avalanche,” he told Den Haag FM radio station.
Pictures from the scene showed rescue helicopters using their rotor blades to blow away a thick layer of sea foam near Scheveningen harbor entrance.
Several boats also combed the surf.
Drownings are rare along the Dutch coastline, but conditions can deteriorate rapidly during storms.
“The whole Dutch surfing community is in mourning today,” one local surfer, who asked not to be named, told AFP.


Philippines to charter flight to bring home citizens from Lebanon

Updated 21 min 49 sec ago

Philippines to charter flight to bring home citizens from Lebanon

  • Remains of four who died in Tuesday’s massive blast in Beirut also to be repatriated

MANILA: The Philippines will soon be sending a chartered flight to Lebanon to bring back Filipinos impacted by a massive explosion at the port of Beirut as early as next week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Saturday.

“The DFA is paying P15,000,000 ($305,643) from its funds for a chartered Qatar Air flight to repatriate from Beirut. The Philippine Embassy in Beirut is negotiating it and disbursing the amount. Aug. 16 is [the date set for] arrival,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said, adding that the flight will also bring home the remains of four Filipinos who died in Tuesday’s blast.

Around 400 Filipinos from Lebanon are expected to return following the catastrophic explosion, which decimated the Lebanese capital.

On Friday, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Sarah Lou Arriola said that President Rodrigo Duterte was responding to the “clamor of Filipinos in Lebanon” and that the “chartered flight is the most concrete, immediate and timely assistance” that the DFA could provide given the current situation there.

Reports state that the deadly explosion was caused by a cargo of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, stored at a warehouse in the port of Beirut for years. 

The odorless chemical is commonly used as an agricultural fertilizer but is also used to make powerful bombs.

“With ground operations clearing more area and embassy personnel receiving additional reports, the department is taking in new inputs with regard to the status of the Filipino community in the country,” the DFA said in a statement. 

Data released by the DFA placed the number of Filipinos impacted at 48, with 42 wounded, four dead, and two missing.

“By day’s end yesterday, the number of injured oversees Filipino workers stands at 42, an increase of 11 from the previous report,” Arriola said.

Two of the wounded remained in critical condition and were being monitored at the Rizk Hospital.

“We were also alerted that another Filipino was reported missing, increasing the number to two. The number of Filipino fatalities, meanwhile, remains at four,” she added.

The DFA said that, earlier, it had expected the number of affected Filipinos to increase considering the magnitude of the Beirut destruction.

Even before the onset of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the DFA had begun its repatriation activities from Lebanon to limit the worsening condition of Filipinos in the country due to economic woes. It has repatriated at least 1,508 Filipinos from Lebanon since December 2019.