Five surfers and lifeguards have lost their lives at Scheveningen Beach, near The Hague, in the Netherlands.
It is one of the most tragic events of all time involving surfers and watermen.
A group of 10 surfers and lifeguards took to the water near Scheveningen on Monday evening in rough weather and ocean conditions.
By the end of the day, two were pronounced dead. On Tuesday morning, two further bodies were found, and one more was spotted floating out to sea.
Joost, Sander, Pim, Mathijs, and Max have lost their lives in the surf.
Aged between 22 and 38, they were all experienced members of surf teams and companies, including Jumpteam Scheveningen, The Shore and Aloha.
According to the local reports, they might have drowned after getting trapped in a combination of high surf, strong wind and currents, tide, algae, and thick layers of foam.
It took a massive search and rescue operation to retrieve the five bodies from the North Sea. The efforts involved helicopters and lifeboats but had to be interrupted at nightfall.
Two of the victims were highly trained lifeguards. They were out in the water for just another open ocean swimming session.
Three of the ten watermen were rescued. One of them, a 40-year-old man, had to be treated in the local hospital and has already been released.
Three surfers are still missing out at sea, but their boards have already been retrieved by the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM) and the Netherlands Coastguard.
No Answers Yet
The local surf schools are in shock, and the Holland Surfing Association (HSA) still can't find an explanation for the tragic occurrence.
"We understand that there are many unanswered questions. We will now let the experts do their job peacefully," the HSA notes.
Rescuers and the local surfing community are still not able to understand the cause behind this unlikely tragedy.
How can five people die at one harbor inlet and, at the other harbor inlet located 100 meters away, there were several surfers in the waves until late in the evening?
Has the thick foam made it hard for the surfers to get back to the beach after falling off their boards?
Several surf and kitesurf boards washed ashore.
So local authorities are now asking surfers who may have come out of the water on their own to make contact and let them know they're safe.
Scheveningen is one of the most popular beach resorts in the Netherlands and one of the best surf spots in the country.
The coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak forced the Dutch government to close many beaches, but surfing is allowed as long as participants respect 1.5-meter social distancing practices.