Drowning death toll climbs past 100

While Latvia's heatwave is enjoyable for many people, it has had a tragic consequence for many others with the annual death toll from drownings climbing Thursday past 100.

The website of the State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD) now records 104 deaths from drowning for the year but as VUGD spokesperson Inga Vetere told LSM Thursday, even that horrific figure tells only part of the story.

"That is the number we have actually pulled from the water - the actual number of drownings is even higher as here are other cases in which we are not involved," Vetere said.

"We had a similar situation in 2010, when we also had a hot summer, but we are concerned that this could be the worst year for drownings in the last five years."

According to Vetere, all age groups have been among the victims with particular concern expressed about the number of teenagers falling victim after shows of bravado.

The worrying rise in drownings is shown by the fact that in 2012 VUGD pulled 108 bodies from the water, while in 2013 the number rose to 116.

With warm weather forecast to stay in place longer and a fresh spate of drownings likely when the ice fishing season gets underway late in the year, the death toll looks certain to rise appreciably.

This year nearly twice as many people have drowned in Latvia as have died in fires: 104 versus 54.

VUGD is repeating its calls for everyone to take care near the water, to refrain from drinking alcohol and particularly to keep a close watch on children and teenagers.

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