• Medea and Algiers

  • Thursday, May 16, 2024 at 6:43 AM
    Last Update : Thursday, May 16, 2024 at 6:43 AM

Seven Arrested After Five Children Drown During School Trip in Algeria

(وكالة أنباء العالم العربي) - Seven people were arrested and placed in custody pending investigation following the deaths of five children who drowned at Sablettes Beach during a school trip in Algeria on Saturday, according to the country’s Public Prosecutor.

The incident spurred shock waves and sympathy for the victims and their families among Algerians and state officials, including President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who offered condolences to the children’s families and sent them a message of solidarity.

The victims were among 65 pupils on a school trip from Aïn Boucif in Medea province (175 kilometres south of the capital, Algiers) to visit the Sablettes Park and Beach, overlooking the Mediterranean, and the nearby Great Mosque of Algiers.

At the family graves in Aïn Boucif, Abdul Motaleb Ben Qaida, the father of one of the victims, Younes, remembers his last hours with his son.

He said, “I took my son to where the trip was scheduled to depart at around 5:30 in the morning in front of the youth centre. He was extremely happy and joyous. He was eagerly anticipating the trip and visiting the Great Mosque.”

Ben Qaida added, “When we arrived at the youth centre, I found the parents of the other students and the rest of his friends who study in the same class as him in the third year of primary school. I stayed with him for some time, and after he met with all his friends who would be accompanying him on the trip, I left him and said goodbye, making sure he was fine. But at night, we received the news of the tragedy.”

After offering condolences, Shatuh Abdul Razak, Vice-President of the Provincial People’s Council said that “beach guards saved about 3200 people who were drowning while swimming in Algeria in 2023 alone.”

“We are striving to have a summer without drowning incidents, and I hope the summer holidays will be comfortable and enjoyable.”

Youssef Aissaoui, President of an Algerian youth organisation, offered several recommendations to parents and school administrations to ensure the safety of pupils while on trips.

He said, “The first recommendation for parents is that when they allow their young children to go out on recreational trips, they must verify who is accompanying them on the trip, including supervisors, as the law does not permit disorganised trips. Rather, there must be a legal file with parental authorisation, insurance for the trip, and qualified supervisors.”

“The number of supervisors must be sufficient to look after children participating in the recreational trip. On a trip in which there are 70 students, every ten children must have one supervisor, who follows up them and takes care of them at all stages of the trip,” Aissaoui added. He also advised against trips to unguarded beaches.

Following the accident, the Algerian Ministry of Education decided to suspend school trips at all educational levels until further notice.