Five surfers killed, more missing, in the Netherlands
At least five surfers have died while surfing the central Netherlands coast on Monday evening.
Under heavy swell and wind, a group of nine surfers paddled out near Scheveningen, a district of The Hague. The surfers got into trouble when thick beds of sea foam left them disoriented and made breathing difficult.
Rescuers from the Dutch Coast Guard were called at 6:45pm. Three people were rescued, two of whom were later pronounced dead, before the search was postponed at 10:45pm.
Resuming on Tuesday morning, a helicopter was engaged to clear thick foam along the coastline. Two further bodies were found and one more was seen floating out to sea. The Coast Guard ended its search in the early afternoon and said it had not found that last person, taking the toll to five.
Among the five victims, three are believed to be seasoned surfers who were "professional trainers in open water swimming", according to NOS, a Dutch public broadcaster.
Mayor Johan Remkes of The Hague expressed his condolences on Monday evening. "When a group of people went surfing early in the evening, no one expected that some would not come home," he said in a written statement.
Dutch lifeguard service KNRM said of the incident, "The strong wind from a northern direction and strong sea current due to the spring tide made the joint search actions a tricky job."
Some surfers told the news agency Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau that the thick foam made it especially difficult.
Sea foam is often caused when freshwater is mixed with saltwater under stormy conditions, particularly when there's large rainfall and localised wind. Scheveningen lies on a flat section of coast with many freshwater estuaries, including the Rhine, one of the largest rivers in Europe, and the extensive Markemeer freshwater lake ot the north.