Fylde coast pays tribute to teenage Dewsbury brothers who drowned at sea in St Annes

Tributes are being paid to two teenage Dewsbury brothers who drowned at sea in St Annes at the weekend.
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The bodies of Muhammad Azhar Shabbir, 18, and Ali Athar Shabbir, 16, from Dewsbury, were found at sea off the coast of St Annes yesterday afternoon (Sunday, August 16).

The tragic discovery was made by HM Coastguard and RNLI volunteers just after 3.15pm, around a mile away from where the boys had last been seen on Saturday evening.

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A 15-year-old boy, believed to be their brother, managed to swim to shore before being taken to hospital for treatment.

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

A Lancashire police spokesman said: "Whilst they have yet to be formally identified, they are believed to be Muhammad and Ali. Their family have been notified and are continuing to be supported by a specially trained officer.

"Our thoughts and condolences remain with them and their friends at this incredibly distressing time."

People across the Fylde coast have expressed their shock at the tragedy, whilst paying tribute to the brothers and the efforts of the rescue workers who had searched tirelessly for them.

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Det Sgt John McNamara of Lancashire Police said: "Awful news. Am thinking of those two lads and their families. So sad.

"A mention too for the rescue teams and Police who I know will have worked tirelessly to find them.

"They’ll equally be gutted tonight. Such a tragic incident. My thoughts with all."

Tom Powell, acting station manager for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, tweeted: "A tragic day in Lytham & St Anne’s yesterday with two separate missing persons incidents.

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"RIP Muhammad, Ali and Martin. Thoughts with all the families and the search and rescue teams who worked tirelessly."

"The worst news. I know the whole Fylde Coast is feeling this," said Anchorsholme councillor Paul Galley.

"Thoughts and love go to the family who must be going through hell."

Gordon Marsden, former Labour MP for Blackpool South, tweeted: "What a terrible tragedy. It was very hot on Saturday across Blackpool & Fylde & tragic a visitor family just coming to relax on a day trip now bears this outcome.

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"Thoughts & prayers for them ... as always after such an awful event the dangers coast can bring must be rammed home."

Deepdale Community Association, a community group in Preston, said: "Muhammad & Ali Shabbir went on a family day out to Lytham St Annes.

"Unfortunately, it turned into a sad tragedy. May the Almighty grant them Jannahtul-Firdaus."

St Annes resident Ruth Mallinson said: "RNLI - We are so lucky to have such an amazing service that you all deliver.

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"Your professionalism over the last few days and commitment has been overwhelming and as a resident I feel very reassured that you gave your time.

"Thank you for everything you do."

Matthew Calderbank