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Teenage boy from Brussels drowns at Belgian coast

16:00 13/08/2021

A 17-year-old boy from Brussels drowned at the Belgian coast yesterday. The teenager had gone to Ostend for the day with a group of friends.

In the late afternoon, the youngster went into the sea for a swim on his own, and his friends began searching for him when they realised they hadn’t seen him for a while. When they couldn’t find him, they alerted lifeguards.

A search involving lifeguards, the police and a helicopter rescue team was launched that lasted hours. In the end, the boy’s body returned to shore.

The North Sea coast is currently experience spring tide, which makes the currents much stronger. “The sea was calm, and there wasn’t much wind,” chief lifeguard Bart Van Eechoute told VRT. “But we are in a period of spring tide, which lasts a few days and means that the currents are very strong. They were the strongest yesterday around 16.00 or 17.00 and can reach four kilometres an hour. That is a considerable speed.”

Lifeguards shocked

Rarely does a swimmer drown at the coast in an area where lifeguards are present. The coast was very busy yesterday, and the lifeguards had a lot of people to monitor, but they are still devasted, said An Beun of the coastal lifeguard service.

“This is one of the first times this has happened,” she told VRT. “Swimming in a guarded zone is normally very safe. But on days like yesterday, where the beach was overflowing with people, accidents can unfortunately still happen. This is such an awful experience for the lifeguards and everyone else involved.”

Van Eechoute reminded the public that no one should go swimming in the ocean alone, even if they are good swimmers. He also stated that spring tide happens every two weeks. “The sea is treacherous, even if it appears calm,” he said. “This is especially true for children, who do not always realise the dangers.”

Photo ©Belga


Written by Lisa Bradshaw