The man and woman who died in last night’s County Kerry drowning tragedy are believed to be a brother and sister.
A major air-to-sea rescue operation has been launched after two people were reported in trouble in the sea off Men’s Beach, Ballybunion, north Kerry on Thursday afternoon.
The man, who was in his 40s, was pulled from the water by members of the Ballybunion Sea and Cliff Rescue and the Ballybunion Coast Guard.
Emergency services performed CPR, but he was pronounced dead a short time later.
The woman, also in her 40s, was found in a subsequent search in the water and was also pronounced dead following treatment at the scene.
Initial reports suggested the couple were from the same family and it is now believed that they were brother and sister.
Their bodies were taken to Kerry University Hospital for autopsy.
Locals say it was a sunny day in Ballybunion but a strong breeze made the water choppy and dangerous.
The emergency response involved units from the Irish Coastguard, Gardaí, RNLI, Civil Defense and both the Rescue 115 helicopter based in Shannon and the Air Ambulance based in North Cork.
The Irish Coastguard’s Ballybunion unit, Ballybunion Rescue and the RNLI lifeboat at Cappagh near Kilrush in Co Clare were tasked with the scene.
The alarm was sounded at around 6:30 p.m.
It is understood the initial report to the emergency services indicated two people had gotten into trouble while swimming off Ballybunion beach.
Search and rescue personnel were quickly dispatched to the area.
En route to the scene of the crime across the Shannon Estuary, the Kilrush lifeboat was decommissioned after two people were reported to have been recovered.
Shortly thereafter, the lifeboat was ordered to turn back and proceed to Ballybunion after the Irish Coastguard received further information suggesting a third person could be missing.
The volunteer lifeboat crew immediately went to the search area off Ballybunion.
The Irish Coastguard helicopter based in Shannon had been on a mission from the Aran Islands to Galway University Hospital when the crew was tasked with the search operation.
Rescue 115 flew direct to Shannon Airport where firefighters were on hand to do a hot refueling.
Hot refueling involves refueling an aircraft while the engines are still running.
After the helicopter was refueled, the crew went straight to the scene to help with the search.
As the operation continued, more information became available to the emergency services suggesting there were only two victims, rather than a third as feared.
Kilrush RNLI Life, via the Rescue 115, have been asked to continue the area and conduct searches as a precaution.
The search and rescue operation was conducted and coordinated by Watch Officers at the Irish Coastguard’s Sea Rescue Sub-Centre on Valentia Island in Kerry.
“Everyone in the community is shocked by what has happened and I send my condolences to the family,” said Robert Beasley, Sinn Fein councillor.
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/republic-of-ireland/man-and-woman-who-died-in-co-kerry-drowning-believed-to-be-brother-and-sister-41891406.html Man and woman who died in Co Kerry drowning believed to be brother and sister