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  1. ITV Report

Father pays tribute to 'beautiful' teenagers who died after Clacton sea rescue as family criticise lack of warning signs

The father of two teenagers who died after getting into trouble in water at Clacton-on-Sea has paid tribute to his "beautiful" son and daughter as the family said there should have been more signs warning people of the dangers of going into the water.

Shamas Riaz said he is "shocked and sad" following the death of Malika, 15, and 18-year-old Haider Shamas, telling ITV News "I don't understand what happened".

Shamas Riaz. Credit: ITV News

"They were beautiful. I miss them. Haider was great. He liked sport; to study. Malika was happy, she made other people happy."

The council insist the beach is safe, but the teenagers' uncle, Majid Riaz, said not enough had been done to avert another tragedy following the death of a 15-year-old boy last summer.

Mr Riaz told ITV News: "The authorities knew of what happened a year before, they should have improved the safety measurements for the families coming. Now we suffered it. It does get you angry."

The last family photo, taken at Clacton just hours before Malika and Haider drowned. Credit: ITV News

Haider and his sister were on a family day out to the seaside when they were swept away while paddling in the water off Marine Parade with two of their cousins.

Malika died at the scene after being pulled out off the sea near the pier. Haider died two days later in hospital. Their cousins, including Haroon Khan, 14, who raised the alarm, survived. Another relative, a girl, is recovering in hospital.

Haroon, the only one of the four who could swim, said the cousins were "walking and splashing each other for fun" and ended up further out than they intended.

Malika and Haider's cousin Haroon swam to safety and raised the alarm. Credit: ITV News

"Us four were all just playing in the water and we were just walking off for a bit and we didn't realise how far we went and it got deeper for us.

"The waves started to get bigger and then one of us started drowning first and then second, third and forth. I was the only one there who could swim so I just started swimming until I could touch the ground.

"Then I called the closest person who went into the water to help them, then I called the lifeguard."

Emergency services responded within in minutes, but, despite there being eight patrol officers on duty, it was a passerby who first helped.

Haroon said he was in the water for a while "screaming for help".

"No one could here me, so I was just thinking of a lot of stuff then."

Tributes at the scene in Clacton, Essex. Credit: ITV News

Malika and Haider's uncle said the trip to Clacton was the family's annual family day to the seaside.

"Every year in summer the family gets together and take a day out. We planned to go to Clacton this time," Majid Riaz told ITV News.

The first he knew there was something wrong was when his wife asked him to go and look for the four teenagers who had gone missing from the group.

Improved safety measures were put in place following the death of a 15-year-old at Clacton last year. Credit: ITV News

"By the time I got there it was basically too late."

"I didn't know until I got close who it was, I saw both my niece and nephew."

"I was hoping they would be fine. I never thought we'd get to the stage we would lose them."

The incident happened little more than a year after 15-year-old Ben Quartermaine drowned near the pier and has raised questions over safety at Britain's beaches.

Clacton council said there had been improved safety measures following the death of Ben last summer and insist the beach is safe.

Malika was a 'happy' girl who liked 'to make other people happy'. Credit: ITV News

Councillor Giancarlo Guglielmi said a forum, including members of the RNLI, fire service and coastguard, set up in the wake of the tragedy found the signs warning of the potential dangers of the sea were "adequate". "But if we have to put more signage up, we will put more signage up," he told ITV News.

Witnesses at the scene on Thursday described "distressing" scenes as lifeguards and paramedics scrambled to help the three teenagers.

Haider Shamas was swept out to sea while paddling near Clacton Pier Credit: ITV News

Several members of the public supported the rescue effort and two other people were also treated at the beach, but did not need to be taken to hospital.

Becky Bryant, a carer from Wivenhoe, said the three teenagers were with a group of up to 30 people at the beach.

Majid Riaz, Malika and Haider's uncle. Credit: ITV News

The RNLI tweeted "We're devastated by the news about Haider & his little sister Malika, two young people who were just enjoying a day out at the beach. Our thoughts are with their family & friends. With weather warnings in place we urge everyone visiting the coast to take care & #RespectTheWater."