Piha beach claims another two lives

JAMES IRELAND
Last updated 07:34 26/02/2013

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The wrong clothing in the wrong place at the wrong time all contributed to the deaths of two men at Piha Beach on Saturday night, surf lifesavers say.

Police identified South Auckland men Bhawandeep Gill, 20, and Yagnik-Kumar Patel, 24, after their bodies washed up on shore early Sunday morning.

The pair, wearing jeans, entered the water just north of Lion Rock at 7.30pm, unaware there was a strong rip. They were with another friend who managed to escape alive.

Surf Lifesaving Northern Region's Logan Adams says visitors wearing unsuitable clothing in the water are a big problem at the beach.

"Wearing jeans comes with all manner of risks. It's a big no-no," he said.

"They weren't familiar with the area. The part of the beach where they went in looks calm and inviting but it's notorious for rips. We have staff out discouraging people from swimming there."

The survivor, who has not been named, came ashore and raised the alarm with off-duty lifeguards further down the beach.

Mr Adams says it is lucky that a lot of the lifeguards live nearby because it meant the rescue effort could begin immediately.

"We had eight to 10 lifeguards out there in three boats with the police helicopter and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter giving us an aerial view. They should not have gone in that late in the day, it was moderate conditions most of the day but the lack of visibility makes it hard to see the shore and it makes it really hard for rescuers."

The search was called off when it got too dark.

The bodies were found at 6am washed up at the same place the men went into the water.

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- Western Leader

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