The funerals for the five young men from Sri Lanka, Kenugen Saththiyanathan, 18, known as Ken, and his brother Kobikanthan Saththiyanathan, 22, known as Kobi, their friends Nitharsan Ravi, 22, Inthushan Sriskantharasa, 23, and Gurushanth Srithavarajah, 27, were held at dawn on Sunday at Winn’s Common in Plumstead after they drowned at Camber Sands in England in August.
The men’s devastated families have now called for a permanent lifeguard to be stationed on Camber Sands and to improve greater safety measures on Britain’s beaches, The Sun newspaper reported.
The Hindu funeral ceremonies for the men were held side by side in white marquees decorated with white, yellow and orange flowers.
Members of south London’s Tamil community also attended the funeral to lay petals on the open coffins.
Several women were so overcome with grief they had to be carried from the tents by relatives and treated by a St John’s ambulance team.
Emergency services have since said it was likely that Ken and Inthushan had got into difficulty first, getting trapped in quicksand or mud beneath the water.
Their friends Ravi, Kobi Nathan and Kurushanth are believed to have then become trapped when they tried to rescue them.
Kurushanth was pulled out first and declared dead at the scene, while Ravi and Kobo still had heartbeats but died a few minutes after being pulled from the water.
It wasn’t until later that evening when the tide receded that the bodies of Ken Nathan and Sriskantharasa were discovered.
The heartbroken father of two of the brothers who drowned has previously blasted the lack of lifeguards on the beach.
Satthiyanathan Arumukam, 51, said he had moved to the UK as he had believed it was a safe place for his family.
He said: “I brought my children from Sri Lanka because it is not safe back there. I thought it would be safe for my family to live in Britain.
“But there were no lifeguards on the beach where they died.
“If there had been my sons would have at least had a fighting chance of survival.
“There were 25,000 people on Camber Sands that day and yet no one saved them.
“It is very, very sad but neither of my sons could swim.”
Clive Efford, MP for Eltham, vowed to raise the issue when Parliament resumes, saying: “Questions need to be asked about how we arrange safety on Britain’s beaches.”
Campaigner Josie Holloway from Greatstone in Kent was at the funeral, with the 20-year-old having started a campaign to have a lifeguard at the popular beach a month before the tragedy.
The 20-year-old said there had been more than 30,000 people on the beach on August 24.
She slammed the council, who she said would raise more than £21,000 from a single car park but none of the funds going to beach safety.
Her campaign on Change.org has since been signed by more than 8000 people.
The Home Secretary Amber Rudd has faced criticism following five men’s deaths after it was revealed she had been told of the need of lifeguards before the tragedy.
The MP was urged to put lifeguards onto the beach, which lies in her constituency, but beach safety was not improved.
More than 300 people have died while swimming in the country’s waters in the last three years with families being warned to take care in the water.
The men’s deaths were the second tragedy to hit Camber Sands this summer with Gustavo Silva Da Cruz, 19, dying after getting into difficulty while swimming on the same stretch of beach in July.
Two other men, aged 17 and 35, got into difficulties and had to be rescued on the same day the teen drowned.
In total, 12 people have died on Britain’s beaches in the last 12 weeks. (Colombo Gazette)