Brother and sister drown while swimming off Irish coast

A brother and sister are suspected to have drowned while trying to swim in the Irish coast on Thursday.

The 50-year-old man and 62-year-old woman were pronounced dead after being recovered from the water at Ballybunion Beach, County Kerry in southwest Ireland.

The incident has been described as a “horrible tragedy” and post-mortem examinations for the siblings are due to take place soon.

Emergency services were called to the beach on Thursday evening after they were alerted by someone who is understood to be a teenage relative of the siblings.

In a statement, the Irish Coast Guard said the report was received shortly after 5pm about a person in difficulty in Ballybunion.

“A full scale search and rescue operation was mounted with Shannon-based Coast Guard Helicopter R115, Ballybunion Community Rescue Boat Ireland and Kilrush RNLI all being tasked to scene,” the statement read.

“Shortly afterwards, a second person was recovered from the water by Ballybunion Community Rescue Boat Ireland.

“The man and woman were pronounced dead on scene. The search was stood down following confirmation that no other persons were missing.

“The Coast Guard express sympathy to the family of the two casualties.”

Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan said the deaths are a “desperate tragedy” and expressed his “sincerest sympathies to the families” of the bereaved and to any witnesses.

“From our perspective here in Co Limerick Ballybunion is an extension of our own place,” the Limerick TD said on RTE’s Today with Claire Byrne Show.

“We know this place intimately. Some of my own extended family were in Ballybunion and saw the commotion that unfolded.

“It’s a desperate tragedy. And there’s really nothing that you can put into words to describe the pall of gloom that’s around north Kerry and west Limerick area at the moment.”

Local Sinn Fein councillor, Robert Beasley, described the incident as a “horrible tragedy” that shocked the community.

The councillor, who lives near Ballybunion beach, told PA news agency: “There was a lot of people on the beach at the time, maybe 600 people or 700 people.

“I met a lot of people on the clifftop and when they realised what was happening men, women and children were leaving in their droves and they were in a terrible distressed state.

“An hour and a half before, when I passed, people were happy, building sandcastles and generally having fun on the beach.

“Two deaths in the space of a couple of minutes on the water. It’s terrible – a terrible tragedy. People are shocked beyond belief.”

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