Three people have died and another is in a “critical condition” in hospital after a group of paddleboarders got caught in a flash flood on the River Cleddau in Haverfordwest, South Wales, police have confirmed.
Five others who were rescued from the water were uninjured, Dyfed-Powys Police said in a statement, adding it was a man and two women who had died and a woman still receiving treatment. No names have yet been released.
The shock conditions came as parts of the UK were battered with almost a month’s worth of rain in 48 hours.
Police officers, the Welsh Ambulance Service (WAS), fire and coastguard joined the multi-agency search on the Cleddau on Saturday. Air support was also provided by both the National Police Air Service (NPAS) and Wales Air Ambulance.
Nearby Quay Street was cordoned off and police asked people to avoid the area.
It was described as a “tragedy”, with local politicians passing on their support for those involved.
“The news emerging from the River Cleddau incident in #Haverfordwest is distressing,” Liz Saville Roberts, leader of Plaid Cymru in Westminster, tweeted. “God speed the emergency services and support the families.”
Meanwhile, Stephen Crabb, the Welsh Tory MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, said: “Horrific incident in Haverfordwest this afternoon. Thoughts with all involved and the emergency services responding.”
A Dyfed-Powys Police spokeswoman described the search and rescue operation as “swift” in a statement.
Detective chief inspector Jonathan Rees, leading the investigation, said a full probe was already under way, but at this stage his thoughts were focused on the loved ones of those who had died and the injured paddleboarder who remains in hospital.
“Dyfed-Powys Police received reports of people in distress in the Cleddau river, in Haverfordwest, shortly after 9am on Saturday,” the statement read.
“A group of nine adults from the south Wales area had travelled to Pembrokeshire for a paddleboarding excursion.
“The exact circumstances surrounding the incident are being investigated, but it is believed that the group got into difficulty in the water.
“Sadly two women and a man died at the scene, and a woman remains in a critical condition in hospital. Next of kin are being supported by specialist family liaison officers.”
Those involved are said to have been members of the South Wales Paddle Boarders and Salty Dog Co, an organisation based in Port Talbot.
There is already a flood alert on rivers in the western Cleddau catchment area following heavy rainfall on Friday, which police stressed should be adhered to.
Meanwhile, the Met Office issued a warning for more heavy rain across south Wales on Sunday.
Yellow weather warnings for rain also remain in several parts of the country, including Glasgow, where the global Cop26 climate summit will begin later today.