Two 16-year-old UK-based Indian boys who had gone to a lake in Northern Ireland for a swim have died in what the local police believe is a “tragic drowning incident”.
Joseph Sebastien and Reuven Simon, both originally from Kerala, were among a group of friends who went to the Enagh Lough in Derry/Londonderry on Monday, which was a holiday in the UK.
The Kerala Association in the Northern Irish city led the tributes to the teenagers on Tuesday.
“We are extremely heartbroken with the devastating tragedy with the loss of our two youngsters, Mr Reuven Simon and Mr Joseph Sebastian, happened in Enagh Lough yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of our families and friends at this difficult time,” a spokesperson said.
A local resident and local councillor, Rachel Ferguson, took to Twitter to express her condolences.
“My thoughts are with the family & friends of the two beautiful young boys who tragically lost their lives at Enagh Lough yesterday,” Councillor Ferguson tweeted.
“The community is in shock, and saddened. My thanks to all the emergency services who attended the scene until very late last night,” she said.
The Police Service in Northern Ireland (PSNI) issued a statement related to the incident and confirmed that the bodies of the two teenagers have been recovered from the lake.
“One male was taken from the water and transferred to hospital, where he was later pronounced dead,” Inspector Brogan said.
“A second male was located and recovered from the water after extensive searches by Foyle Search and Rescue and police divers. He was sadly pronounced dead at the scene… Enquiries are ongoing into this incident, but we believe, at this stage, that this was a tragic drowning incident. Our thoughts are with the families of those affected,” he said.
One other male was taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries and three other males were also at the scene, the police said.
The Mayor of Derry/Londonderry and Strabane District Council councillor, Sandra Duffy, expressed her sadness at the incident and called for vigilance while swimming in the region’s lakes and rivers.
“The sad loss of two teenage lives in such circumstances is devastating for all of us. As a mother, my heart goes out to the boys’ parents and to their family and friends at this time, I hope you get the strength and support you need to get you through your huge loss,” Duffy said in a statement.
She added: “Our rivers and loughs (lakes) can be so dangerous and this incident highlights more than ever the need for us all to be vigilant at this time of year. My thoughts are also with the boys’ friends who were there last night and who witnessed the tragedy and to their school friends and teachers who should have been welcoming them back to school this week.
“We are united in our grief today and all of us are here to offer our support to the families in the difficult days ahead.”