Two children who tragically died off Bournemouth beach still may not have been saved if lifeguards were quicker, a coroner said.

Joe Abbess, 17, from Southampton, and Sunnah Khan, 12, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, both passed away after getting into difficulty in the water.

They were among 11 people who struggled in the sea on May 31, 2023.

The incident on Bournemouth Beach last year (Image: Professor Dimitrios Buhalis/PA)

A pre-inquest review into their deaths heard how “significant steps” were taken by the RNLI, and there is insufficient evidence to suggest if lifeguards were quicker that Joe and Sunnah would have survived.

Senior coroner for Dorset, Racheal Griffin, said: “From all that I have read, the events on May 31 were sudden and unexpected.

“It was a quickly evolving incident with a number of casualties, 11 including Sunnah and Joe.

“Emergency services responded without delay and saved many lives that day and it is very tragic that the lives of Joe and Sunnah were lost.”

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She added that she understands the concern over the amount of time it took to recover Sunnah and that an exact time of death cannot be established.

Ms Griffin said Sunnah had been with her aunt and brother when she was swept away by the current.

She said: “The fact that they could not locate her is indicative of the difficulty in finding out what happened to her and what direction she went until she was sadly found and recovered.”

A previous hearing was told there was a “suggestion” a riptide had led to both drownings.

It was heard on Wednesday (19 June) that pleasure boat Dorset Belle could have contributed to the deaths.

Following an investigation, Dorset Police ruled the Dorset Belle pleasure boat did not contribute to the incident despite previous beliefs that it created dangerous sea conditions.

However, Mrs Griffin said that the propeller wash from the boat cannot be ruled out.

An expert report said rip currents are not unusual around structures such as piers or groynes but are not common at the location of the incident, east of Bournemouth Pier.

The expert said: “What occurred was an unfortunate anomaly of nature.

“A series of events that would not usually cause injury but together provided a lethal combination.”

Ms Griffin emphasised the actions of the driver of the boat are not being questioned.

A full inquest into Joe and Sunnah’s deaths will be held on September 24.