x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Survivors tell of tragedies at beach that claimed three lives

Seven pulled from water as treacherous seas claim three lives

DUBAI // A trip to the beach ended in tragedy for a group of seven friends after one died and another remains unconscious in hospital.

Haja Mohammed Ismailuddin, 25, from the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, drowned off Umm Suqeim 1 Beach on Friday at approximately 4.30pm.

The former Indian bus driver, who was employed by a local paper mill, died after battling strong currents along with two other friends, who were hospitalised.

Of the seven friends who went to the beach, only three went swimming, while the others remained on the shore.

"The weather was great and we had been swimming for about 20 minutes when suddenly the currents became strong and the waves started crashing against us," said Rafi Jhani, 27, one of the friends who was hospitalised.

"I was swimming a little away from Ismail when I heard him shouting for help," he added.

"I tried to swim to him but the waves kept pushing me away. The effort drained me of all strength and I had to seek help, too."

An unidentified swimmer pulled Mr Jhani out of the water. Friends then alerted a rescue team, who pulled the third man, Mohammed Imtiaz, 26, out of the water, along with the body of Ismailuddin.

Mr Imtiaz, who works at a logistics firm, has yet to regain consciousness and is being treated at Rashid Hospital.

Mr Jhani, who works at the same company, was discharged on Saturday morning.

He said he was still shaken by the event and could not believe his friend was dead.

"No one told me that he had died until I was discharged from the hospital," Mr Jhani said.

At 1.45pm the same afternoon, the body of a British tourist was pulled from the sea by a Dubai resident, Jonny Singh.

The man, identified as Martin Hayle, 50, died en route to the hospital, according to Dubai Police. "I was about 30 metres out in the water and the conditions were rough," said Mr Singh.

"I spotted a body floating, so I swam out to check on the man. His face was pale and he was not moving. After I towed him to shore, a rescue officer immediately tried to resuscitate him."

In a third incident on the same day, another man drowned two hours later at the same beach.

Police have identified the victim as a British expatriate, PF, 52.

The British Embassy confirmed that two of its citizens drowned in Dubai on Friday, but declined to comment further.

Five more swimmers were pulled from the water by Dubai Rescue Police that day.

An Indian man and an Iranian man were rescued in separate operations on Jumeirah Beach Residence Open Beach, and two Sudanese men, aged 18 and 21, were rescued on Umm Suqeim 1 Beach.

In a seventh operation, a 28-year-old woman from New Zealand was rescued after her kayak overturned off Umm Suqeim 2 Beach. She suffered minor injuries.

wissa@thenational.ae

pkannan@thenational.ae