Lifeguards warn after three drown

  Jun 1, 2020 10:48 am Ibrar Younas 984
Three young lives, including student Gözde Nur Binbir, were taken by the sea as the country’s beaches reopened. Now questions are being asked about safety as the main training body warned they don’t have enough lifeguards for summer ...

Lifeguards warn after three drown

The public were warned to be “very careful” if they choose to swim in the sea this summer as there will not be enough lifeguards to patrol the beaches.

It comes after three young people were drowned within 24 hours last weekend, the first time beaches were opened to the public following the lifting of health restrictions.

A warning had been issued by the TRNC Meteorological Office on Saturday that ‘today and tomorrow there will be high winds on our seas with gale force winds  from time to time and we advise the public not to go into the sea for sports, swimming or to cool off.”

English student Gözde Nur Binbir, 22, and gym enthusiast Mehmet Ceyhan, 24 got inot trouble while swimming with two friends off  Alagadi beach last Saturday.

Mr Ceyhan, from Lapta, and his friends managed to reach the shore, before he bravely dived back in to help Miss Binbir. Both were lost before the arrival of the coastguard.

Miss Binbir was a Near East University English language student from Balıkesir in Turkey. Her body was retrieved in a combined effort by police, coastguards and civil defence that day.

Following searches by divers, a helicopter and frantic efforts by his family using a drone and kayaks, Mr Ceyhan’s body was eventually found on Wednesday, four days later, 500 metres off the Elexus Hotel.

A popular bodybuilding enthusiast from a large Başpınar-based family, his funeral was held in Lapta on his birthday.

On Friday, a similar tragedy at Kervansaray saw Junior Nwadele Yanga, 26, rescued from after he went into the sea from the nearby jetty. 

The young university student from the Democratic Republic of Congo could not be saved and died in Lefkoşa Burhan Nalbantoğlu State Hospital on Saturday.

North Cyprus Water Sports Federation president ,Ender Yesilyurt said due to corona virus they were unable to bring any lifeguards or lifeguard trainers from Turkey. He said there were 50 lifeguards registered with the Federation who were sent to certain beaches and hotels upon request.  

But he stressed their number was insufficient: “This year there will not by any lifeguards at many hotels, private or municipal beaches.”

He explained that training for lifeguards was three days for swimming pools and five days for sea. But these courses could not be held as they were unable to get them from Turkey. Usually they held courses at the start of May, but due to corona virus these did not take place.

“People should be very careful while going swimming this year as there is a lifeguard shortage so people should chose beaches which have lifeguard or crowded ones. Also they should not go swimming during rough seas,” he said.

Turtle expert Dr Robin Snape commented: “During my years on Alagadi, we have never experienced any problems with our student volunteers. However, many  people are not aware that there are very strong and dangerous rip currents during windy weather, which I have experienced while wind surfing.

“You simply can’t swim against them to shore but you can swim parallel to them and they can just take you out to sea.”

Beach safety is regulated by 1993 regulations to the Useage and Control of Beaches Law. Municipality or private beaches which provide facilities are obliged to oversee the safety of swimmers by providing a lifeguard.

A spokesman for the TRNC Ministry of Tourism and Environment advised that his ministry had responsibility but could provide no further details yesterday.

Beaches have not yet formally opened this year due to government Covid-19 crisis management restrictions but will be allowed to open from June 1, although people were told the could use beaches last weekend on the Bayram holiday.

Consequently, no lifeguard was present at the Girne Municipality controlled beach at Kervansaray.