Five surfers died after getting into difficulty in “avalanche-like” seafoam caused by stormy conditions off a popular Dutch beach, police and witnesses said Tuesday.
Rescue workers retrieved the bodies after a major search following the incident on Monday at Scheveningen, a suburb of The Hague that borders the North Sea.
Two victims were pulled from the sea late Monday but died despite efforts to resuscitate them. Three more bodies were discovered on Tuesday.
Two of the surfers were internationally-trained lifeguards and had worked in Australia, The Hague’s “alternative mayor” Pat Smith said.
“They were busy training. They then disappeared under the foam like it was some sort of avalanche,” he told Den Haag FM radio station.
Pictures from the scene showed rescue helicopters using their rotor blades to blow away a thick layer of sea foam near Scheveningen harbour entrance.
Several boats also combed the surf. Drownings are rare along the Dutch coastline, but conditions can deteriorate rapidly during storms.
“The whole Dutch surfing community is in mourning today,” one local surfer, who asked not to be named said.