Investigators are examining the circumstances surrounding the tragic deaths of a 12-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy who were among a group of 10 swimmers involved in an incident off the coast of Bournemouth on Wednesday. The pleasure cruiser Dorset Belle, which was in the area at the time, is currently anchored at Cobb’s Quay in Poole Harbour, with a police van nearby. Dorset Police have not commented on the investigation.
The Dorset Belle is known for offering regular cruises around Bournemouth and the Dorset Coast, departing from Bournemouth Pier. The Marine Traffic website indicates that the boat visited the pier at 4pm BST on the day of the incident. The BBC has attempted to contact the owners of the Dorset Belle without success.
Tobias Ellwood, Conservative MP for Bournemouth East, called on Dorset Police to issue a “qualified statement” regarding the incident, which resulted in the deaths of the young girl from Buckinghamshire and the boy from Southampton. He told BBC Radio Solent, “Police must be given the space to do their investigation, but ultimately we do need to alleviate fears and remove the rife speculation that pours out because of social media, we have eight miles of beach and families want to know is it safe.”
Dorset Police has not commented on any investigation involving the Dorset Belle. The force is currently working with the Maritime Accident Investigation Branch and Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Farrell has emphasised that the investigation is still in its early stages and that the force is only releasing certain details to address speculation. The exact circumstances of the incident remain unclear.
An earlier police statement confirmed that there was no physical contact with a jet ski or boat and that no one jumped from the pier during the incident. A man who was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter has been released while inquiries continue.
Vikki Slade, leader of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, previously told the press that ensuring the safety of the beach is a “top priority” for the authority. She confirmed that she would be meeting with MP Conor Burns to discuss pier safety on Friday.
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