FIVE men were mysteriously found drowned at a packed beach yesterday on the hottest day of the year so far.
Three fully-clothed victims, in their 20s, were pulled ashore at Camber Sands, East Sussex. Two were found later.
One onlooker said: “We don’t know if they were caught in a riptide or were illegal immigrants washed ashore.”
They were hauled on to a packed beach by the public and lifeguards.
The grim sight was witnessed by families who had been enjoying the hottest day of the year.
An air ambulance and rescue helicopter were scrambled to Camber Sands, East Sussex, but the men died despite efforts to resuscitate them.
Just hours later two more bodies were recovered and last night a search was under way for a reported sixth body.
The tragedy was shrouded in mystery as police tried to establish the victims’ identities and where they were from.
One theory was that they drowned after being dragged out to sea by a riptide, which has caused deaths there in the past.
But the beach has relatively shallow water and was said to be calm yesterday afternoon.
Witnesses said the first three men were fully clothed and did not appear to have any family or friends on the beach with them.
It led to speculation the victims could be illegal immigrants.
But a Sussex Police source insisted: “We’ve been advised that there is currently nothing to suggest the men were migrants.”
Emergency crews were called to the scene shortly after 2pm following reports that one man was in difficulty in the sea.
Rita Wilcox, 61, from Sidcup, Kent, who was on the beach with husband Alan and two grandchildren, said: “We don’t know if the men were washed up or caught in a riptide.”
Another witness said: “They had all their clothes on — shorts and T-shirts.
“We found it quite odd because we didn’t see any family or anything for them on the beach.”
Mum-of-two Kelly Thisleton, 40, also from Sidcup, said: “We saw someone pulling a young black guy out of the water. All the beach guards rushed down.
“It was three black gentlemen in their late 20s in the end.”
A helicopter was seen hovering above the coastline at 10pm after the other two bodies were found.
Last night Richard Tollett, lifeboat operations manager at Rye Harbour, said: “As the tide has receded it has left a couple more bodies on the beach in the sand at Camber.
“A member of the public found them and reported another one in the water so we have got two lifeboats and a helicopter searching the area.”
The two bodies discovered at low tide at 8pm were both young males.
– The Sun Uk