- By Maria Zaccaro & Duncan Kennedy in Bournemouth
- BBC News
A 12-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy have died after being pulled from the sea off Bournemouth Pier.
Eight other people were treated for non-life-threatening injuries after emergency services were called at 16:32 BST on Wednesday.
A man in his 40s, who was on the water at the time, has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, Dorset Police said.
It is not clear how the pair, who died in hospital, sustained their injuries.
Bournemouth, which is full of people on half-term holidays, has been stunned by the tragedy.
Many people who saw the incident unfold say, despite the helicopter, ambulance and coastguard activity, they did not get a sense of the horror until the police statement was put out.
The coastguard said it had conducted a search to make sure there were no other people missing and was “satisfied there are not”.
In a statement, Det Ch Supt Neil Corrigan said the beach was “very busy” at the time and appealed for anyone with information to come forward.
“We are at the early stages of our investigation and would ask people not to speculate about the circumstances surrounding the incident,” he said.
The beach was cleared, along with the nearby Pier Approach, with a cordon set up.
The beach, usually such a beautiful and benign setting, attracts families from all over the country.
Eeman Qamar, from Southampton, was there with her mother and three-month-old baby at the time.
She told the BBC that just after 16:00 lifeguards began to tell people to clear the beach, saying there had been a major incident.
“After about 20 minutes, the first air ambulance arrived and landed right in the middle of the beach,” she said.
“The lifeguards started getting on jet skis and boats, searching the sea and about 20 minutes later the second air ambulance arrived and it took another hour-and-a-half for them to finish the whole search and rescue operation.”
‘Danger ever present’
Kathryn Walton, from Oxford, was also on the scene with her family and described seeing lifeguards and “loads of people rushing on to the beach”.
She said people were moved away from an area of the beach as several other emergency service vehicles arrived.
Another eyewitness, Trevor Pinto, had been walking along the pier with his 16-year-old son and said the incident happened “very close” by.
He said they watched as lifeguards attempted to resuscitate two people, adding: “It took me a while to realise, oh my god someone had lost their life”.
Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns expressed his condolences to the families of those who died and said the incident was a “salutary lesson that our beaches and ocean can give much pleasure but danger is ever present”.
“A dreadful event in circumstances when they were enjoying beautiful weather in our town. So sad,” he wrote on Twitter. “Thanks to the lifeguards and the Air Ambulance who we can take for granted.”
Anyone with any information is being asked to contact Dorset Police via the force’s website or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55230083818. Crimestoppers can also be contacted anonymously via its website or on freephone 0800 555 111.
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