German police say they are investigating the death of two British boys who drowned in a lake in western Germany on Thursday evening.
The boys, aged seven and nine, were pulled from the Eiserbachsee near Aachen after their parents reported them missing. Doctors fought overnight to save their lives but they were pronounced dead in hospital in the early hours of Friday morning.
The boys are believed to have been brothers who were holidaying in the region with their parents. The natural lake in Simmerath, close to the borders with the Netherlands and Belgium, is a popular destination for local people and tourists and is a designated swimming area. On the day of the boys’ disappearance bathers were enjoying the water resort as an escape from the 31C (87F) heat. Witnesses reported seeing a group of bathers panic shortly after 6pm on Thursday, when it was discovered that the boys were missing.
The police were called at 6.59pm and arrived on the scene with several emergency vehicles. The German emergency technical relief agency, THW, arrived a short while later, along with qualified life savers from the German association of life savers, DLRG. The teams searched the lakeside and the water for signs of the missing boys.
The boys were discovered by a first aider who discovered their lifeless bodies in the water. They were pulled out and attempts were made to resuscitate them by medics before they were flown to clinics in nearby Cologne and Aachen. Initially the boys’ conditions were described as critical. On Friday morning it was announced that despite doctors working to revive them, the boys had not survived their ordeal.
The boys are reported to have been holidaying with their parents in the Netherlands before travelling to Germany.
Officials said the lake where they had been swimming had life-saving staff at the weekends when it was at its busiest, but not during the week. The mayor of Simmerath, Bernd Goffart, told media that the deaths had shocked the town and that the rescue workers had been deeply affected by the tragedy. He described the lake as “harmless” for swimmers. There was no information as to whether the boys had been able to swim.
A month ago a 16-year-old Belgian boy is reported to have drowned in the same lake after jumping from a landing stage and never reemerging. His body was recovered after a two-hour search.
State prosecutors in Aachen said they have begun an investigation into whether negligence was involved in the boys’ drownings.
The British Foreign Office said it was on hand to offer help to the family of the boys.