A man who was arrested over the deaths of a teenager and 12-year-old girl at a popular beach has been released under investigation while enquiries continue, police have revealed.
The 17-year-old boy and young girl died after getting into difficulty in the water off Bournemouth beach, in the UK, on Wednesday afternoon. They were not related, officers have confirmed. Their identities have not yet been disclosed by the force.
Ten people — all thought to be children — were pulled from the sea at about 4.30pm during the huge "multi-agency operation" at the busy tourist destination. The teen boy and girl sustained "critical injuries" and were rushed to hospital where they later died, Dorset Police said. The remaining eight were treated at the scene for non-life threatening injuries.
Police issue plea during 'horrendous' time
Following the incident, a man in his 40s who was on the water at the time was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, but has since been released, Dorset Police said.
Officers have dismissed suggestions a boat hit swimmers, telling the media on Thursday (local time) that "early investigation indicates that there was no physical contact between a vessel and any swimmers at the time of the incident".
"Our thoughts remain very much with the loved ones of the two young people at this horrendous time and we are doing all we can to support their families," Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Corrigan said.
"We are continuing with our investigation, which is still at the early stages, and would ask people not to speculate about the circumstances surrounding the incident to both protect our enquiries and out of respect for the victims' families."
Jet-ski concerns shut down
Police were pictured standing by a sightseeing boat called the Dorset Belle, moored by Poole Harbour, on Thursday night.
According to the online tracker, Marine Traffic, on the day of the deaths the boat made numerous circuits in the waters off Bournemouth Pier, including around the time of the incident.
At a press conference in Bournemouth, Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Farrell also said there was no suggestion that people were jumping into the sea from the pier or that jet-skis were involved.
"We are working with partner agencies to understand what has caused the tragedy," Dorset Police said in a statement. "We are investigating the circumstances that caused a number of swimmers to get into difficulty. Further information will be released as the investigation progresses."
Stunned witness: 'We knew it was serious'
Tom Saunders, a surfer who helped with the search operation, said he heard "lifeguard sirens going off, making an announcement, and then the beach got cleared either side".
"So obviously, I knew something had gone on. We heard the helicopters coming so knew it was serious," he said.
Mr Saunders and three other surfers searched areas of the pier where the lifeguards' jet skis could not reach. "They said there were two people missing at the time and then after about a half hour they said everyone was accounted for," he added.
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