Five men, aged 22-38, identified as Scheveningen drowning victims

Hague police officer
A police officer in The Hague. Sept. 11, 2015DutchlightDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

The five water sports enthusiasts whose bodies were retrieved off the coast of Scheveningen were men from The Hague and Delft between the ages of 22 and 38, the police and Johan Remkes, the acting mayor in The Hague, confirmed at a grim press conference on Tuesday. A 40-year-old man who was rescued from the choppy water on Monday evening was treated in a hospital, and later released.

The victims were a 22-year-old man from Delft and three men from The Hague, aged 24, 30 and 38 respectively. "The body of a 23-year-old man from Delft has been spotted, but the body has not yet been recovered," local chief of The Hague police Anil Soerdjbalie announced to the public.

"The grief in the Scheveningen community is unimaginable. It is known here better than anywhere that 'the sea gives and the sea takes', but the way so many young lives are now being broken down and so many families and groups of friends have been affected is unprecedentedly cruel," Remkes lamented.

Remkes and Soerdjbalie would not speculate on what caused the dangerous situation that the surfers and swimmers found themselves in. Remkes said the victims were all physically fit and knew the water "like the back of their hand." He said the regional emergency services management office would likely release more information next week after a full investigation.

The victims, rumored to include experienced surfers and lifeguard instructors, had ventured into the rough seas off of the Noordelijk Havenhoofd on Monday at separate times. They had gone into the water as part of a group of six, another group of three, and one person individually. When they started to encounter problems, someone on shore notified authorities, which triggered a massive search and rescue operation Monday evening.

Rescue workers managed to help save seven people on Monday, including the man who was hospitalized. Two of those rescued were pronounced dead Monday night. The search mission was called off as darkness fell on the area, and restarted at sunrise on Tuesday. Hours later, the remains of two missing people were recovered.

Remkes went on to express his condolences to the relatives and friends involved in the incident. "I know that it is not of much use to you now, but I would like to let all affected families know that we are around you in The Hague," the Mayor said.