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Tributes pour in after two Durham rugby players die in Sri Lanka

Thomas Howard (left) and Tom Baty (right) Credit: Durham City RFC

A second Durham rugby player has died in Sri Lanka, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

Durham City RFC released a statement which said "it is with great sadness that the Club can now confirm that Tom Baty, 26, from Durham City has died this afternoon following his admission to hospital on Sunday, 13th May. We would like to extend our sincere condolences to the Baty family."

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Tributes had been pouring in for 25-year-old Thomas Howard, who died after suffering breathing problems on 13 May.

The Foreign Office confirmed on Tuesday that his teammate Tom Baty, 26, who had been in hospital, has since died.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Foreign Office said: “We are assisting the family of a British man who has died in Sri Lanka, and are in contact with the Sri Lankan hospital, police and coroner.”

25-year old Thomas Howard Credit: Durham City RFC

The pair had travelled to Sri Lanka to tour with one of Durham City Rugby Football Club's teams called the Clems Pirates.

Their breathing issues were not rugby-related, the club said.

The club confirmed the names of the Durham players in a statement which said: "The Howard and Baty families have requested that their right to privacy is respected."

Tom Baty Credit: Durham City RFC

Durham City RFC president Richard Wilkinson said: "On behalf of all members and friends of the DCRFC family we would like to extend our sincere condolences to the families of Thomas Howard and Tom Baty."

"Our thoughts and prayers are with you all," he said.

"Both players and Clems Pirates hold a special place in our rugby family, and our continued support is unconditional."

Mr Wilkinson added: "We will also continue to support the Clems Sri Lankan tour party by being in regular contact with senior club officials out in Sri Lanka."

The club president also thanked people for the many messages of sympathy and support that have been received from members, friends and the wider rugby family.

"They are very much appreciated at this difficult time," he said.

Durham County Councillor David Boyes said Durham City RFC was a very well organised, well-equipped organisation and oversaw a number of teams.

He said the club had organised numerous tours abroad in the past and had never had any problems before.

"I really feel for the families, being that far away and knowing that a family member has died must be terrible," he said.

Durham County Councillor Richard Ormerod said it was very sad news for all those involved.

"My thoughts are with the families and friends and team-mates," the councillor said. He added that Clems Pirates was well known in the community.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said they were assisting families of two British men.