Bournemouth Pier boat operations suspended after children’s drowning deaths

Bournemouth Pier has suspended all boat operations as a precautionary measure following the tragic deaths of two children, Joe Abbess, 17 years old, from Southampton, and Sunnah Khan, 12 years old, from Buckinghamshire. The council has clarified that the suspension affects only one company, which operates the Dorset Belle sightseeing boat. The vessel was impounded by police after the incident, but it is just one of several lines of inquiry being pursued.

An inquest heard that a riptide may have caused the pair to drown. The ban on boat operations will remain in place until the police investigation is completed. Dorset Police have stated they are keeping an open mind about the incident, which took place last Wednesday, and have dismissed speculation that the children jumped from the pier. They are considering various possible causes, including weather conditions and the state of the water.

The incident involved 10 swimmers on a day when the beach was filled with visitors during half-term. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has stated that no formal investigation has been launched, but inquiries are ongoing. Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council said in a statement that boat operations from the pier have been paused as a precaution while the police investigation continues.

A man in his 40s, who was on the water at the time of the incident, was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter but has since been released while inquiries continue. Post-mortem examinations identified drowning as the cause of both deaths. Dorset coroner’s officer Nicola Muller said that emergency services were contacted by members of the public following suggestions that the children had been caught in a riptide.

Joe’s family described him as “a fabulous young man,” while Sunnah’s mother, Stephanie Williams, paid tribute to her “beautiful daughter” on Twitter. Sunnah’s school, Bourne End Academy, described the 12-year-old as “bold and happy,” with a personality that “resonated throughout the school.” Teachers at City College Southampton, where Joe was studying catering, expressed their grief over his death.

The inquest was opened and adjourned for a pre-inquest review hearing on September 18.

World News

Jamie Cartwright

Jamie is a keen traveler, writer, and (English) teacher. A few years after finishing school in the East Mids, UK, he went traveling around South America and Asia. Several teaching and writing jobs, he found himself at The Thaiger where he mostly covers international news and events.

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