Widow says family could swim after Britons die in Spain pool

Widow says family could swim after Britons die in Spain pool
Widow says family could swim after Britons die in Spain pool

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - LONDON — A woman whose British husband and two children drowned at a Spanish holiday complex has denied reports they couldn't swim, suggesting something was wrong with the pool in a claim denied by the resort.

The tragedy took place on Christmas Eve as the family-of-five was holidaying at Club La Costa World in the southern resort of Mijas near Malaga.

"The three of them knew how to swim," said Olubunmi Diya in a statement posted on by the London-based church where her late husband was a pastor.

"The children went into the pool using the steps but found themselves dragged into the middle, which was deeper and called for help when they could not get out," she explained, saying her husband then got in to help them.

"I believe something was wrong with the pool that must have made swimming difficult for them at that point in time," she wrote, saying the family was "utterly heartbroken" by the tragedy.

Gabriel Diya, a 52-year-old Christian pastor, died alongside his nine-year-old daughter Comfort and his 16-year-old son Praise-Emmanuel, who holds US nationality.

A source close to the probe had earlier said that a surviving sister told investigators none of them could swim.

But CLC World said the mother's claims about the swimming pool were "directly at odds with the findings of the police report".

"This makes clear that their exhaustive investigations have confirmed the pool was working normally and there was no malfunction of any kind," it said in a statement, expressing sympathy for the family at such "a stressful and desperately upsetting time".

Police investigators were not immediately available to comment on the mother's remarks but had on Friday released a report concluding they died due to a "lack of proficiency" in swimming.

"All the tests carried out until now, including the statements by the other two members of the family who were the only witnesses of the incident, indicate a tragic accident caused by the victims' lack of proficiency in swimming when they entered the deep area of the pool where they were out of their depth," it said.

Investigators said all three children had been playing in the shallow area of the pool as their parents sunbathed nearby but when the 14-year-old sister got out, she saw her little sister getting into trouble after she moved into the deep area.

Her older brother tried to help but also struggled to get out of the deeper waters, so she quickly told her parents.

Her mother ran for help as the father got into to save the pair — "an action which wasn't possible because he didn't know how to swim", the police said.

Despite efforts to revive them when they were pulled out, all three died.

Police carried out various tests on the water filtration system, examining its motors and valves and "didn't find any irregularity". They also took water samples which are currently being analyzed.

"The autopsy showed they died of drowning, ruling out in principle any type of chemical intoxication. Also, the bodies showed no sign of blows or scratches which could have been caused by the pool's mechanism."

The pool reopened on Thursday, with the resort saying it had been given "formal permission" by the police who, after running a full investigation, had found "no concerns relating to the pool or procedures in place".

In a statement, the Redeemed Christian Church of God said Gabriel Diya had led one of its churches in Charlton in southeast London, describing him as "a humble, friendly and committed pastor" who was a "loving husband and devoted father".

It said it was offering care and support to his widow and to his surviving daughter, Favour. — AFP

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