Warnings issued after at least 31 water deaths amid UK heatwave

Video report by ITV News Midlands Correspondent Ben Chapman

At least 31 people have died in the water since scorching temperatures were recorded across the UK in the past week.

Charities and emergency services have been urging caution amid fears more deaths or serious incidents could occur as the summer holidays get underway.

The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) urged swimmers looking to cool off in the sweltering heat to take care in open water, saying it was aware of 17 incidents of accidental loss of life in the water between July 17 and July 24 alone.

Meanwhile, the Coastguard has issued a plea for people to take care at the coast following nine deaths in the past 10 days.

Police searching for a missing teenage boy in the River Dee in Chester have found a body. Credit: ITV News

The warning has been issued as schools break up for summer and ahead of World Drowning Prevention Day on Sunday (July 25) which has been organised by the United Nations to highlight the issue.

Among the deaths in the past week were a number of teenagers, including a girl and a boy aged 13 and a nine-year-old boy.

England reached its hottest temperature of the year on Tuesday when 32.2C was recorded at Heathrow Airport in west London.

Thursday saw a top temperature of 31.1C in England, in Derbyshire, while the mercury hit 31.4C in Armagh, Northern Ireland, 31.2C in Ceredigion, Wales, and 29.3C in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.

The 31.4C reading in Armagh, which was reached at 3.20pm on Thursday, is Northern Ireland’s highest temperature on record, while Thursday’s highs marked the hottest day of the year so far in Scotland and Wales.

In England, bodies were recovered in several areas.

  • Cornwall

A man in his 30s died after being pulled from the water at Crantock Beach near Newquay at 7.30pm on Thursday, July 22. The death is not being treated as suspicious.

  • Yorkshire

On Sunday, the body of a man in his 50s was recovered from River Ouse, close to the Water End Bridge in York.

The body of another man, believed to be in his 20s, was also found on Sunday night in Sheffield at Crookes Valley Park. Emergency services had been called to a man coming into breathing difficulties at an unused quarry and an underwater dive team pulled his body out of the lake just before midnight.

Watch ITV News Calendar correspondent Martin Fisher's report from Monday

A third man's body was found following a major search operation at Pugneys Country Park in Wakefield. Police were called to the lake on Sunday, and the man’s body was recovered after two underwater searches.

The body of a 15-year-old boy was also recovered from a canal in Knottingley, Leeds. The young boy was with a group of friends when he decided to cool off from the hot weather by going into the Bank Dole Lock on the Aire and Calder Navigation. It took rescue services an hour to find the boy’s body under the murky water.

Another teenager, a 19-year-old, died in the River Wharfe in Grassington, Craven. Police were called by the ambulance service at about 7.45pm on Thursday. He was treated by paramedics, but later was pronounced dead.

Off the North Yorkshire Coast on Thursday, a 55-year-old man died and two teenagers are in hospital after getting into difficulty in the sea. The man was rescued by RNLI, but was later pronounced dead. Police were called by the coastguard at about 2.45pm to the incident in the sea off Reighton Gap, around four miles south of Filey.

DCI Phil Jackson from West Yorkshire Police spoke to ITV News on Wednesday

  • Manchester

The body of 19-year-old talented footballer, Ngapee Merenga, was recovered after an underwater search in Salford Quays in Greater Manchester. It is thought he had been swimming with friends from his football team when he disappeared under the water on Sunday evening.

  • Cumbria:

16-year-old Mohammad Abdul Hamid, known as Hamid, was found in the River Eden in Cumbria on Sunday following a search by emergency services which started on Saturday night.

ITV News spoke to Imam Abdur Rashid at Carlisle Islamic Centre who gave a heartfelt tribute to his student Hamid

  • County Durham

14-year-old Matthew Sherrington was reported missing to police on Thursday, July 15, after playing in the sea in the Headland area of Hartlepool. Officers searching the beach and sea area along with several lifeboats over several days, found the body of a young male near to Steetley Pier in Hartlepool on Thursday, July 22.

  • Merseyside

On Wednesday, July 21, emergency services were called to Crosby Beach following reports of three men in their 20s getting into difficulties in the sea. While all three men were taken to hospital, one, Hamza Mansoor, had died shortly after.

Watch the report by ITV News correspondent Tasha Kacheri from Wednesday 21 July.

  • Cheshire:

The body of a 16-year-old boy who fell into the River Weaver in Frodsham on one of the hottest days of the year, on Monday, July 19, was recovered by emergency services on Tuesday morning.

The body of a 16-year-old boy who went missing while swimming in the River Dee in Chester, Cheshire, on Thursday, 22 July, was found by emergency services in the late hours of Thursday after an exhaustive seven-hour search.

Friends paying tribute to the 16-year-old have named him as Frank Varey, a boxer who won several national titles and represented England in the European Championship. Among the people paying tribute was Tyson Fury, who wrote on his Instagram story: "RIP Frank. Was a future world champ."

  • Oxfordshire:

13-year-old Nicole Sanders died after getting into difficulty while swimming in Ducklington Lake in Oxfordshire on Sunday. The young girl had gone to the lake in Witney with her 10-year-old sister and two other friends but she got into difficulty after entering an area where the ground dropped and it became much deeper.

Watch: Nicole's father Joe Middleton paid tribute to his daughter.

  • Derbyshire:

A man's body was recovered from a flooded disused quarry in Dove Holes, Buxton on Sunday evening after a four-hour search by police and firefighters. The fire service described his death as a "tragic incident" and said flooded quarries were particularly dangerous.

And on Wednesday, the body of a 15-year-old boy was recovered from the River Trent at Swarkestone following an extensive search. Firefighters were called to the river just off Swarkestone Bridge shortly after 5.30pm on Tuesday following reports of a young male getting into difficulty swimming in the river.

The body of another man was found in River Derwent in Derby on Thursday. Police were called to part of the river near Derby Rowing Club, in Darley Abbey, in the afternoon.

  • Hertfordshire:

A man died after getting into difficulty at Stanborough Lakes in Welwyn Garden City on Tuesday, July 20.

  • West Sussex :

A 49-year-old man was pulled out of Ardingly Reservoir on Monday, July 19, after a police search for a swimmer who had disappeared while out with friends in the water on Sunday, July 18.

  • Devon :

A 61-year-old woman died after an incident at the popular Croyde Beach in North Devon on Saturday, July 17.

  • Lancashire :

The body of a man in his 20s, who was seen entering the sea in Fleetwood before disappearing on Saturday 17 July, was discovered six hours later after a major search operation by rescue services.

  • Newcastle :

The body of a man in his 30s from Newcastle who went missing after difficulty swimming in Brothers Water, south of Patterdale, on Tuesday 20 July, was recovered from the water a day later.

  • Deaths in the water were also reported in Northern Ireland:

13-year-old Jay Moffett died after getting into trouble while entering a lake in the Canal Court area of Scarva, in County Down on Monday.

Jay Moffett died after entering water in the Canal Court area of Scarva in Northern Ireland on Monday.

A 55-year-old man died after entering water at Lough Melvin in County Fermanagh in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

  • In the Republic of Ireland, at least two drownings have been reported:

A woman in her 20s drowned in what is locally known as Swan Lough in County Cavan on Wednesday night.

The body of a man in his 70s was recovered after he failed to return to the surface while snorkelling at Spencer Harbour in Drunkeeran, County Leitrim, also on Wednesday evening.

  • In Scotland, there were six deaths in just one weekend

Edina Olahova, 29, and Rana Haris Ali, nine, and Muhammad Asim Riaz, 41, died after getting into difficulty in the water near Pulpit Rock at Loch Lomond on Saturday evening.

An 11-year-old boy died in a river at Stonehouse, a 13-year-old boy lost his life in water at Hazelbank in Lanark while a 16-year-old boy died at Balloch at the south end of Loch Lomond on Friday.

Lee Heard, RLSS UK’s charity director, said: “Whilst we recognise how tempting it is to cool off in the UK’s beautiful waterways, they hide hazards that tragically take lives each year and we urge the public to use caution when entering the water, getting acclimatised to the water temperature before jumping in. “The difference between the air temperature and water temperature can literally take your breath away; this is called cold water shock. It is silent, invisible and deadly. “Water can also hide debris, strong currents and sudden changes in depth that can catch out even the strongest swimmers."

Heavy rain and thunderstorms are set to bring an end to the heatwave over the weekend.

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for rain for much of central and southern England from midnight on Saturday until the end of Sunday, with the potential for flooding and transport disruption. Extreme heat warnings which have been in place for south-west England and parts of Wales will expire on Thursday night, while the heat warning for Northern Ireland is in place until the end of Friday.