Bournemouth beach boat operations suspended after deaths

Bournemouth pier

Boat operations from Bournemouth beach have been suspended after the tragic deaths of two schoolchildren last week.

The council has confirmed that the ban is a ‘precaution’ and that it will impact just one company, which operates the Dorset Belle sightseeing boat.

Dorset Belle, a cruise boat operating from Bournemouth Pier, was recently placed under police guard in Poole Harbour as part of the ongoing investigation into the incident. Police have confirmed the boat is just one of ‘several lines of enquiry’, and there is no indication that the swimmers were involved in a collision or contact with the boat.

On 31 May 2023, Joe Abbess, 17, from Southampton, and 12-year-old Sunnah Khan, from Buckinghamshire, died after being pulled from the water on Bournemouth beach with ‘critical injuries’.

Eight other children had to be rescued after getting into difficulties off the beach in Dorset, which was filled with half-term holidaymakers and locals.

Dorset Police says it is still ‘investigating the circumstances that caused a number of swimmers to get into difficulty’ and confirmed a man in his 40s, who was ‘on the water’ at the time of the incident, has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

An inquest has heard a ‘suggestion’ a riptide led to the pair drowning. The council says the ban on boat operations would remain pending the outcome of a police investigation.

Dorset Police says it is keeping an ‘open mind’ about the incident last Wednesday and has dismissed speculation the children had been jumping from the pier.

The force is considering causes, including the impact of weather conditions and the state of the water.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has said ‘no formal investigation has been launched’ but it is continuing to make enquiries.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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