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Inquest told how brothers were engulfed by tide on ‘very safe beach’


By PA News

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Two brothers on a family day out at the beach drowned after a rapid incoming tide engulfed them, an inquest has heard.

Muhammad Azhar Shabbir, 18, and Ali Athar Shabbir, 16, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, were paddling near St Annes Pier in Lancashire on the early evening of August 15 when tragedy struck.

The pair and their 15-year-old cousin entered the water at Lytham St Annes beach to play with their cousin between 6pm and 7pm when the tide had turned.

The teenage cousin managed to get back to the shore but the brothers, said to have “limited swimming abilities”, were unable to escape as their father Talat and a member of the public swam out to assist.

Earlier the boys’ mother, Tasleem, had warned them not to venture too far out and shortly before the incident escorted her younger children to the shoreline when water quickly surrounded the family.

A search and rescue operation was launched by the emergency services but the brothers were not found and their bodies were recovered on the beach the following day.

Blackpool Coroner’s Court heard the tide comes in “quite quickly” over the large stretch of beach which contained various gulleys.

Recording conclusions of accidental death, Andrew Cousins, assistant coroner for Blackpool and Fylde, said: “Sadly the presence of the gulleys and sandbars had perhaps lulled Muhammad and Ali into a false sense of security and they were unaware of the depths of the water.”

The inquest was told a notice displaying tide times at the beach entry point at the North Promenade car park was out of date.

The RNLI lifeboat returns after searching for the Shabbir brothers (Kim Pilling/PA)
The RNLI lifeboat returns after searching for the Shabbir brothers (Kim Pilling/PA)

It should have been replaced on August 1 but the person responsible for posting it was off on leave.

Steps have been taken by Fylde Borough Council to ensure that scenario would not be repeated but Mrs Shabbir told the hearing the family would not have seen the notice in any event.

She said it was busy when they arrived at the car park and queuing members of the public surrounded the toilet block where the notice was posted.

She told Lisa Foden, the council’s parks and coastal service manager: “Maybe you should think about changing the location and having the notice a bit higher.”

Ms Foden confirmed the location would be reviewed and also said the council was spending more than £80,000 on additional beach safety signs and notices along the Fylde coastline.

The proposed upgrade followed a risk assessment that was started prior to last summer’s tragedy.

Lytham Coastguard station officer Paul Little told the inquest that it was the first such tragedy he could recall at St Annes and he regarded it “generally as a very safe beach”.


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