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Young asylum seekers at risk in Austrian lakes
Liefering bathing lake. Photo: Honorarfreies Pressebild: Stadt Salzburg / Johannes Killer

Young asylum seekers at risk in Austrian lakes

The Local · 15 Sep 2016, 10:41

Published: 15 Sep 2016 10:41 GMT+02:00

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The Lieferinger bathing lake in the city of Salzburg is very popular with young asylum seekers as it costs nothing to swim there. However, local authorities say that few of the asylum seekers know how to swim, and many of those who can swim overestimate their skills.

Despite that, most try to swim out to the middle of the lake and get into trouble halfway there.

Johann Biechl, head of the water rescue services in Salzburg, says there have been a few close shaves this summer.

"It was always a rescue within the last possible seconds. If we hadn’t intervened, they would have drowned. Some of them overestimated their abilities."

Luckily there are lifeguards at the lake, who were always alerted on time by the young people’s screams and gestures. "Our team certainly has a trained eye when it comes to watching how people swim and how they behave in the water. A lot can be discerned from their behaviour," Biechl said.

The Lieferinger bathing lake is owned by the city of Salzburg. During the week, three lifeguards are usually are on duty. At the weekend they are supported by volunteer members of the water rescue services in Salzburg.

Just across the border from Salzburg in Germany, the German National Lifeguard Association has issued a warning about swimming in open water after more people drowned in Germany so far this year than in the whole of 2015.

Story continues below…

In the first eight months of this year, 425 people drowned, of whom 56 – more than 13 percent – were asylum seekers.

Story courtesy of Central European News


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