Grieving Dewsbury family thanks public who helped in doomed search for brothers who drowned at sea in St Annes

The family of two Dewsbury boys who drowned off the coast of St Annes has paid tribute to those who helped in the frantic sea search and its tragic aftermath.
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Brothers Muhammad-Azhar Shabbir, 18, and Ali-Athar Shabbir, 16, went missing off the coast of St Annes on Saturday, August 15. Their 15-year-old cousin managed to swim to shore to alert the authorities, but the two brothers would not be seen alive again.

The boys' bodies were found at sea the next day (Sunday, August 16) following a huge search and rescue operation. Police said that HM Coastguard and RNLI colleagues had recovered their bodies just after 3.15pm, about a mile from St Annes Pier.

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Their devastated family, from Dewsbury, have expressed their appreciation for the relentless efforts of the Fylde coast rescue teams who took part in the two-day search.

Brothers Muhammad-Azhar Shabbir, 18, and Ali-Athar Shabbir, 16Brothers Muhammad-Azhar Shabbir, 18, and Ali-Athar Shabbir, 16
Brothers Muhammad-Azhar Shabbir, 18, and Ali-Athar Shabbir, 16

The grieving family also expressed its gratitude to those in the local community who rallied together to help them in the aftermath of the tragedy.

A statement, on behalf of Muhammad-Azhar and Ali-Athar's parents said: “Mr and Mrs Shabbir and their family want to express their greatest thanks and appreciation to everyone that helped them that day.

"This includes the emergency services, Lytham St Annes RNLI, the Southport Lifeboat crew, the Coastguard, police on duty that day, Beth and her husband, who went into the sea to try and find their boys, other members of the public who tried to help them, staff at St Annes Travelodge and the receptionist who paid for additional family that arrived the next day to stay.

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"Mr and Mrs Shabbir would also like to thank people in their community, including the schools, for their continuous support with their other children, local Mosque Masjid Uthman, who helped accommodate guests and keep within the social distancing rules, the Fisabilillah Burial service which is also a volunteer and donation run service, neighbours who have put donations together for the RNLI, and Muhammad-Azhar and Ali-Athar's friends who also put together donations to build wells for people without access to water in Muhammed-Azhar and Ali-Athar’s names."