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Five people drown in weekend swimming accidents around Germany

The Local Germany
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Five people drown in weekend swimming accidents around Germany
Lake Konstanz in southern Germany, where a 38-year old man died over the weekend. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)

Several people around Germany died over the weekend in drowning accidents. Here’s why they occurred, and how experts say further tragedies in the water can be prevented.

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The accidents occurred in waterways deemed not suitable for swimming, or where it is even expressly forbidden to go into the water.

In Lower Saxony, in the municipality of Bakum north of Osnabrück, a 52-year-old man died in a quarry pond on Sunday, according to police. 

His companion, a 60-year-old woman, was also found floating lifeless in the lake, but rescue workers were able to resuscitate her. Bathing is expressly forbidden in the lake, according to signs posted there.

READ ALSO: How to stay safe while swimming in Germany this summer

A man also died in Münster in North Rhine-Westphalia while trying to swim across the Dortmund-Ems Canal. 

According to the police on Sunday evening, the 32-year-old was accompanied by his 21-year-old girlfriend when he tried to swim through the canal from the eastern to the western bank. He suddenly sank in the middle of the canal.

His girlfriend tried in vain to save her boyfriend. Rescue divers from the fire brigade were able to recover the man, but resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful and the 32-year-old died on the spot. 

The Münster police, who were investigating the case, called it a "tragic accident".

A bathing accident in Lake Konstanz also ended fatally for a man. The 38-year-old was in the water with his girlfriend near Langenargen, Baden-Württemberg on Sunday evening when she complained of pain in her leg and returned to the shore, according to police.

When she turned around, she could no longer see her boyfriend and called for help.

Two bathers rushed to help and pulled the man out of the water. On the shore, according to the police, he was taken to a fire boat and they tried to resuscitate him. The man died in hospital.

There had already been fatalities in North Rhine-Westphalia on Saturday: According to the police, an 86-year-old man died in a quarry pond in Issum near Duisburg after he had tried to cool down. 

Emergency services recovered his body on Saturday afternoon after a search operation in which a police drone was reportedly also used. In nearby Kerken, a 73-year-old swimmer died in a bathing accident in the Eyller See natural outdoor pool.

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In Düsseldorf there was also a non-fatal accident on Saturday: three young men were caught in an undertow in the Rhine and swept away.

Rise in the number of accidents

In light of several recent fatal bathing accidents, the German Life Saving Society (DLRG) again warned of the dangers of bathing or swimming in waterways, especially those not explicitly marked for swimmers

Last year, Germans lifeguards rescued 836 people - more than at any time in almost 40 years. 

"Following rescue operations in the water, it becomes clear time and again that the people in distress are not good swimmers or cannot swim at all,” they said.

DLGR further reported that the number of drowning incidents is on the rise in Germany, with at least 355 deaths recorded last year alone.

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Of these, 308 deaths occurred in inland waters: 47 people drowned in lakes, 105 in rivers, 15 in streams, 22 in ponds, and 19 in canals, according to the DLRG. Swimming pools accounted for 13 fatalities, while 18 people lost their lives in the sea. Bavaria had the highest number of drowning deaths, with 69 reported cases.

According to the DLRG, one of the most common causes of drowning in Germany is overconfidence in the water, combined with poor swimming skills.

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