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More than 400 people drown each year in Spain

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More than 400 people drown each year in Spain
A lifeguard watches beach-goers in Calvia on Mallorca. Photo: Jaime Reina / AFP.
12:04 CEST+02:00
Eighty percent of drowning victims in Spain are male, with the biggest risk to men aged over sixty, a new report shows.

The report published on Wednesday concluded that 438 people died from drowning in 2012 and 422 in 2013, the majority of whom were men and boys.

Researchers from the Mapfre Foundation, several universities and the Spanish Association of Technicians for Aquatic First-aid and Rescue (Aetsas) compared national statistics with information from 20 different municipalities with beaches rated excellent for quality and safety.

Their goal was to describe the characteristics of drownings during the summertime, when the number of such deaths increases. 

"Spain is a country with an immense number of aquatic spaces, both natural ones inland and on the coast, and artificial ones," the report said. "Unfortunately, these spaces also have numerous accidents and deaths for various reasons, most frequently from drowning."

An overwhelmingly the majority of drowning victims were male at more than 80 percent in both 2012 and 2013.

Seven in ten drownings happened in outdoor, natural settings, while between 14 and 19 percent of deaths occurred in pools, especially private ones. 

The researchers also found that for every 39 life-threatening events at a beach, one ends in tragedy and death. They also said that most accidents occur between noon and 8pm. 

The age groups that had the highest number of dangerous events were between the ages of five and nine, 20 and 24 as well as between 50 and 54. Still, the report authors said that when it came to drowning in such incidents, men over the age of 60 were at the greatest risk.

The study also emphasized that nine out of ten life-threatening incidents happened when a person was swimming recreationally and that 83 percent happened when swimming was allowed in the area.

Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo, participated in the presentation of the report in A Coruña to raise awareness about water safety, prevention and what to do if someone is drowning.

"This year, let's enjoy our natural surroundings and pools, but do it with respect to safety and the risks," she said, according to newspaper El Mundo, before demonstrating how to resuscitate someone who has been drowning.

According to the World Health Organization, 400,000 people die of drowning around the world each year, making it the third leading cause of death due to unintentional injury.

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