Boy, 9, and mum among victims of 'worst weekend' after six people die in Scotland’s waters

ITV News Reporter Hannah Miller reports on a tragic series of drownings in Scotland's lochs

A nine-year-old boy is among six people who died after a series of tragic incidents in Scotland's waters in what a fire chief said was "one of the worst" weekends in memory.

Rana Haris Ali, nine, his mother Edina Olahova, 29, and family friend Muhammad Asim Riaz, 39, died after getting into difficulties on a day trip to Pulpit Rock at Loch Lomond, south of Ardlui, on Saturday evening.

A seven-year-old boy, understood to be Mr Asim Riaz's son, is also fighting for his life.

That incident was the fourth such incident in Scotland’s waters in just over 24 hours.

Ms Olahova's husband and father of Rana, Waris Ali said they stopped at the beauty spot as they headed home from Skye. The children were on a pier and went into the water thinking it was shallow but it was “too deep” and they “went under”.

He told Sky News his wife saw the children drowning and the adults jumped in to save them.

He spoke of trying to save his wife: "I managed to stay afloat and head towards the shallow water, but when I got out, I saw my wife’s hands outside and just her eyes out of the water.

"I took my shirt off and threw it to her so she could grab it, but she couldn’t.

"I then went to go and get help."

Muhammad Asim Riaz.

A friend said the family had asked for duas (prayers) "for all who have been affected by this horrific tragedy".

Three further people died in separate incidents in Scotland’s waters at the weekend, making it one of the worst in memory for the fire service, according to a senior officer.

The first fatality occurred on Friday evening, when a 16-year-old boy died in the water at Balloch Country Park, at the south end of Loch Lomond, on Friday.

Later, an 11-year-old boy was pronounced dead at the scene after being found in the river at Alexander Hamilton Memorial Park in Stonehouse, South Lanarkshire, at 4.30pm on Saturday afternoon.

Police were then called out to Hazelbank in Lanark at 5.55pm, following the report of a concern for a person in the water.

Emergency services who attended the scene recovered a body from the water, with the family of a 13-year-old boy been made aware of the incident.

Less than an hour later, at 6.40pm on Saturday, police were called out to Pulpit Rock.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams, of Police Scotland, said the number of deaths that had taken place in open waters over Friday and Saturday was “hard to comprehend”.

“The message I want to send to everyone is exercise extreme caution. It is better to keep a safe distance from water if possible," he added.

He urged people: “If you see someone in the water and distressed, call 999 immediately.

“Remember, you could get into difficulty yourself trying to help so please take care and seek help as soon as possible.”

“Tragically, this weekend has highlighted that open water is very, very dangerous.”

Alasdair Perry, a deputy assistant chief officer for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, told Good Morning Scotland: “This is the worst weekend in relation to incidents of this nature I can remember and I’d like to offer my condolences and those of everyone at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to all those affected by this weekend’s tragic events, and in particular to the friends and families of all those involved.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her “thoughts and condolences” were with the families of those who had died and urged people to stay safe in Scotland’s waters.

Simon Jones, the executive lead for water safety at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, added: “It’s been a terrible week in the park and across other parts of Scotland as well for tragic events.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to friends and family.

“We can’t remember a period like this – many of our staff were closely involved and it’s been very traumatic for people involved.

“(It’s been) really, really challenging and sobering – giving us a lot of cause for reflection.”