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Record number of children lost on Belgian beaches in July
During the month of July, a record 1,100 children escaped the watch of their families at the Belgian coast, according to the West Flanders rescue service (IKWV).
The figure was higher than that of the total number of children who went missing in July and August in 2017. Belgium’s hot summer weather was the reason for massive rise as many more holidaymakers flocked to the coast.
Ostend and Blankenberge were the resorts where the largest number of children were temporarily lost, with respectively 300 and around 250 youngsters reported missing. They were followed by De Haan and De Panne, with some 110 wandering off.
Fortunately, no major incidents were reported and the majority of children were reunited with their families within ten minutes.
According to the rescue service, this was largely due to the free distribution of ID bracelets. Lifeguards were advising parents to give their children the safety bracelets with their name and telephone number on, making it easier to identify them if they wandered out of sight.
Rescue services were also called out in July to help bathers who had swam too far from the coast or had drifted out with the current. A larger number of visitors than usual turned up at help stations because of heart problems.
Assistance for holidaymakers continues throughout the month of August, supervising 34km of designated bathing zones. Swimming outside of these areas is forbidden.
Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga