Swimmers at risk at Famagusta beaches
By Kyriacos Kiliaris
Recent drowning incidents have increased the concerns of public bathers in the region of Famagusta.
Bathers are particularly worried over the absence of lifeguards on the region’s beaches and are demanding that measures be taken.
According to Turkish Cypriot police records, two people have drowned during the first two months of the summer, while eight more have been involved in near-drowning incidents, with one person still being treated in intensive care.
All incidents mentioned in the police reports took place on public beaches.
Locals and bathers who frequent the beaches demand that authorities take measures to make public shores safer by posting people who will be able to provide help in cases where swimmers are endangered.
Despite the fact that institutions running a beach open to the public are obliged to have at least one lifeguard on watch, over half of the beaches in the Famagusta region have none on duty.
Reporters from Turkish Cypriot newspaper Havadis inspected Famagusta’s beaches to find that councils do not apply the regulations in the north, leaving certain coasts under their responsibility without a single lifeguard on duty.
As the newspaper stresses, the beaches are neither checked by the authorities nor the police. Where a council is found not to be in accordance with the regulations, it is liable to prosecution.
Havadis’ reporters inspected all 10 beaches in the region last Sunday, to find that only four had a lifeguard monitoring the waters.
Reporters pointed out that, while the public part of Glapsides beach in Famagusta had a lifeguard in charge, the privately-controlled part of the beach just a hundred metres away did not.
The team found that the beaches with a lifeguard posted were more crowded than those that had no lifeguard on duty.
Unsurprisingly, bathers told the reporters that they felt more comfortable at beaches that have a lifeguard, given that, in the event of a potential drowning incident there would be someone who knew what to do.
Bathers said all beaches should have a lifeguard posted and that their lives “should not be left to chance”.
For their part, on-call lifeguards told the reporters that they also believed it was essential for the safety of bathers that all beaches have at least one lifeguard.
They said the authorities in the north should inspect the beaches more often and apply deterrent penalties to offending councils and institutions.
Reporters found that the councils of Trikomo (Iskele) and Ayios Sergios (Yeni Bogazici) do not show the necessary sensitivity towards the issue.
Bathers at beaches under the control of the two councils were fuming over the continuous absence of lifeguards.
Tourists on a Trikomo beach said that while the council has posted lifeguards at the bigger of the two beaches in its jurisdiction (Makenzy), it had not taken similar steps regarding the other.
“They apply the regulations as they please,” commented an angry beach-goer.
According to Havadis, beaches in Famagusta lacking a lifeguard include the privately-controlled part of Glapsides beach, the Bedis public beach, the Kocareis and the Kaya Reis shores, the public beach in Ayios Sergios and the public beach in Trikomo.