The Cyprus Life Saving Federation has called on the government to step up efforts to introduce more life guards across the island’s coasts following two drownings over the weekend.
An autopsy on Tuesday is expected to confirm drowning as the cause of death of a 35-year-old Indian national who died in the water at Pervolia beach on Monday. His 24-year-old female friend was pulled out of the water unconscious but alive.
In a seperate incident over the weekend, a 42-year-old man died drowned whilst spearfishing in Akamas.
Speaking to state radio on Tuesday, the head of the Cyprus Life Saving Federation, Polys Pallikaros, said the only way to ensure wider lifeguard coverage – and longer shifts – would be for Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides to issue a relevant decree to fast track the introduction of more lifeguards.
“The relevant legislation is currently at parliament but is not likely to be taken before a vote until the end of the year…the only way to bring it in earlier would be for the Interior Minister to issue a decree,” Pallikaros said.
He said that no lifeguards were assigned to the beach where the victim and his friend had been visiting, adding that a request to have a lifeguard tower set up there in the past had been denied.
Pallikaros noted that as things stand, individual municipalities were responsible for choosing which beaches to assign lifeguards and that those decisions were usually limited by thin budgets.
“As things currently stand, most beaches have lifeguards on duty between 10am and 5pm although some, such as Ayia Napa, have extended the hours which is a positive move,” continued Pallikaros.
A decree, and eventually the new law, will ultimately mean all the municipalities will be obliged to man their lifeguard posts for the same hours.
“The best possible case would be for lifeguards to be on guard until sundown,” he said.
“We have put together a study on lifeguard station equipment needs which was sent to the Interior Ministry.”
He went on to explain that €200,000 has been released to meet immediate needs – whittled down from a €1.2 million wish list.
“When deciding whether or not a lifeguard should be posted at a beach, it should also be taken into account if the beach was used for other activities apart from swimming, such as for beach volley.”
Earlier this summer, an elderly man was saved from drowning minutes after the lifeguards began their shift. The man had been swimming in the sea close to the municipal beach in Kato Paphos on May 21 when, shortly before 11am, he was overcome by the waves.
The beach’s lifeguard, who had only just begun his shift, heard the man’s calls for help and rushed to his aid.
Days later, on May 25, a Russian tourist drowned while swimming at Nissi Beach, Ayia Napa, late in the afternoon. The alarm was raised at 6pm.