A 31-year-old man, a couple in their 70’s and a woman aged around 60, all died on Monday on Portugal’s beaches while enjoying the bank holiday sunshine.
The incidents happened, newspaper Público reports, on the Rainha beach in Costa da Caparica, in Nazaré, and on Lagoa beach, in Póvoa de Varzim.
The newspaper claims lifeguard duty on all three beaches only begins in June, even though official beach season can begin as early as 1 May, but only a dozen beaches in the Cascais area chose to start manning beaches from that date.
The initial incidents happened on Monday afternoon, the first in Costa da Caparica, at lunchtime, when the alarm was raised for three people – two men, aged 26 and 31, and a 26-year-old woman who were in trouble in the sea.
They were dragged from the sea to shore by local surfers but when official rescue services arrived the two younger victims were suffering from hypothermia and the older man had gone into cardiac arrest.
He was taken to the Garcia da Orta hospital but died at the unit a short while later.
Roughly one hour later, in Nazaré, rescue services were called to help an older couple, Spanish tourists in their 70s, who had also been washed out to sea after paddling along the sea’s edge and being bowled over by waves.
Despite the best efforts of the coastguard and the Maritime Police, both were dead when they were found in the water.
The third and final tragic beach incident on Labour Day, happened at around 8pm in Póvoa de Varzim.
Authorities were called to help a couple in their 60’s; the man was rescued by a lifeguard but the woman died.
Beaches throughout the centre and south of Portugal were busy on the 1 May bank holiday thanks to the pleasant weather, although many were still without lifeguards to man them as many counties choose to start the service in June, when tourism gains pace.
Lifeguards are due to take their places on the sands of Costa da Caparica and Nazaré on 1 June, while in Póvoa de Varzim, the service starts on 15 June.