Foam main reason for Scheveningen tragedy; 5 surfers killed

Search for missing surfers at Havenhoofd in Scheveningen, 11 May 2020
Search for missing surfers at Havenhoofd in Scheveningen, 11 May 2020Kustwacht Nederland, @Kustwacht_nlTwitter

The presence of large amounts of foam can be seen as the main cause for an accident in which five surfers drowned off the coast of Scheveningen last month, according to the initial investigation into the accident, coordinated by the Netherlands institute for sea research NIOZ. The researchers believe the massive amounts of foam were caused by an exceptional combination of high quantities of algae and an unusually strong wind for the time of year, NU.nl reports.

"The Public Prosecutor can say with certainty that there was no possible criminal act," said Johan Remkes, acting mayor of The Hague. "This will not bring the victims back, but for the families and friends who have suffered such a great loss, insight into the events and the unfortunate combination of circumstances is of great importance."

Further research is now being done into whether there can be better warning for comparable situations in the future. The report states that a foam warning system seems to be technically possible, using a combination of models, satellite images and measurements. But the development for such a system will take time. So the researchers advise that emphasis for now should be on the right information so that dangerous situations are better recognized and water sports  enthusiasts can better assess the risks themselves. 

A group of swimmers and surfers got into trouble in the North Sea off the coast of Scheveningen on May 11. Rescue workers took seven people out of the water that evening. Two of them died, despite attempts to resuscitate them. The next day, the bodies of two more surfers were recovered. The body of a fifth victim was also spotted that day, but could not be recovered. The young man's body was finally found on Thursday. The victims were between the ages of 22 and 38.

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