/Costa Del Sol hotel pool tragedy began when nine-year-old girl got out of her depth

Costa Del Sol hotel pool tragedy began when nine-year-old girl got out of her depth

The Costa Del Sol pool tragedy began when a nine-year-old girl got out of her depth and her British pastor father and his 16-year-old son jumped in to try to save her.

Comfort Diya got into difficulty after slipping and, failing to regain her footing, drifting towards the deep end of the six-and-a-half feet deep pool at holiday resort Club La Costa World near Fuengirola, around 2pm on Christmas Eve.

The girl’s brother Praise-Emmanuel jumped into the pool followed by their father Gabriel, after hearing the screams, 14-year-old daughter Favour who had been playing with Comfort moments beforehand told investigators.

None of the three, who lived in Charlton, south east London, knew how to swim properly, police sources revealed yesterday. 

The Costa Del Sol pool tragedy began when a nine-year-old girl got out of her depth and her 14-year-old brother and father Gabriel, 52, (pictured) jumped in to save her at 2pm on Christmas Eve

The Costa Del Sol pool tragedy began when a nine-year-old girl got out of her depth and her 14-year-old brother and father Gabriel, 52, (pictured) jumped in to save her at 2pm on Christmas Eve

The Costa Del Sol pool tragedy began when a nine-year-old girl got out of her depth and her 14-year-old brother and father Gabriel, 52, (pictured) jumped in to save her at 2pm on Christmas Eve

Comfort Diya (pictured above with her father in 2016) had been playing in the pool with sister Favour when she slipped and drifted towards the deep end, which was six-and-a-half-foot deep

Comfort Diya (pictured above with her father in 2016) had been playing in the pool with sister Favour when she slipped and drifted towards the deep end, which was six-and-a-half-foot deep

Comfort Diya (pictured above with her father in 2016) had been playing in the pool with sister Favour when she slipped and drifted towards the deep end, which was six-and-a-half-foot deep

Earlier reports had alleged their may have been a problem with the pool's pump system. It is one of several at Club La Costa World, near Fuengirola, but was little used as it was not heated

Earlier reports had alleged their may have been a problem with the pool's pump system. It is one of several at Club La Costa World, near Fuengirola, but was little used as it was not heated

Earlier reports had alleged their may have been a problem with the pool’s pump system. It is one of several at Club La Costa World, near Fuengirola, but was little used as it was not heated

Francisco Gonzalez, a spokesman for the Civil Guard union AUGC, confirmed overnight: ‘The surviving sister has said they didn’t know how to swim.

‘With that information and the fact we know the water in the pool was very cold, the mystery of what caused this awful tragedy begins to unravel itself.’

Comfort is said to have had some swimming lessons, but only in shallow water where she could touch the bottom of the pool.

Favour told police she saw her brother in difficulties as he tried to rescue his sister and went to look for a life buoy while their father began to strip off to jump in, Spanish newspaper Diario Sur reported. 

The children’s mum Olubunmi, 49, was in the family’s holiday apartment at the time but is understood to have ratified Favour’s admission the drowning victims could not swim.

Police and a Fuengirola court coordinating the judicial investigation into the Christmas Eve tragedy have yet to officially rule out any anomalies with the pool and the Civil Guard was still insisting late yesterday the probe was ‘ongoing’.

But the family revelation about the drowning victims’ lack of swimming skills has taken the focus off the pool pump system.

None of the three knew how to swim when they jumped into the pool, said 14-year-old daughter Favour (She is pictured second left with her father, Gabriel, and brother Praise-Emmanuel)

The children's mother Olubunmi, 49, is understood to have been in the family's hotel room at the time. Pictured above is Gabriel with son Praise-Emmanuel and daughter Favour

The children's mother Olubunmi, 49, is understood to have been in the family's hotel room at the time. Pictured above is Gabriel with son Praise-Emmanuel and daughter Favour

The children’s mother Olubunmi, 49, is understood to have been in the family’s hotel room at the time. Pictured above is Gabriel with son Praise-Emmanuel and daughter Favour

Early speculation pointed to possible problems with the pool suction side of the circulation system.

Spanish media reports yesterday said Comfort’s swimming cap had been found in the suction system.

Police sources later confirmed it had been discovered in the pool drainage grid but insisted divers had not identified any problems that could have caused dangerous suction entrapment when they were in the water after the tragedy.

A subsequent Spanish media report said the swimming cap had been located in a pool skimmer basket where things like leaves or insects normally end up.

On Wednesday night resort chiefs said the Civil Guard, the police force leading the investigation into the triple tragedy, had given them permission to reopen the pool which is one of several on the sprawling holiday complex but was being little used because it was not heated like some others.

Resort operator CLC World Resorts and Hotels put out a statement which said: ‘All at Club La Costa World resort are devastated by the tragedy that unfolded on Christmas Eve where a father and his two children were found unresponsive in a swimming pool and despite the best efforts of our first response team and the emergency services, could not be revived.

‘The Guardia Civil have carried out a full investigation which found no concerns relating to the pool in question or procedures in place, which leaves us to believe this was a tragic accident which has left everyone surrounding the incident in shock.

‘Naturally our primary concern remains the care and support of the remaining family members.

‘We would therefore request that their privacy be respected at this traumatic time.’

Gabriel Diya is pictured with his wife Olubunmi, who was on holiday with him and their children at the time

Gabriel Diya is pictured with his wife Olubunmi, who was on holiday with him and their children at the time

Gabriel Diya is pictured with his wife Olubunmi, who was on holiday with him and their children at the time 

Pictured: The entrance to the Club La Costa World resort on Spain's Costa del Sol where three Britons died

Pictured: The entrance to the Club La Costa World resort on Spain's Costa del Sol where three Britons died

Pictured: The entrance to the Club La Costa World resort on Spain’s Costa del Sol where three Britons died

The force insisted overnight it had never authorised the reopening of the pool because the resort operator was responsible for the holiday complex and the safety of its holidaymakers, and police had never closed it in the first place.

Autopsies performed at Malaga’s Institute of Forensic Medicine on Wednesday confirmed the cause of death of all three Brits was drowning.

Pathologists found no signs of any external injuries, or evidence they had been poisoned, during the examinations.

Medical experts have also found nothing pointing to Comfort’s sister suffering any chlorine poisoning in the pool, which is just over six-and-a-half feet deep at its deepest point and was not heated like others on the sprawling complex where they were staying.

Gabriel’s widow and surviving daughter, who are due to fly back to the UK later tomorrow after a week-long holiday, are currently being comforted by other relatives who flew to Spain from Britain after learning of the tragedy.

It is not yet clear whether they will delay their return or jet back home as scheduled.

A witness who helped perform CPR on pastor father-of-three Mr Diya told on Wednesday how his wife prayed and touched her loved ones’ bodies to try to will them back to life. 

The tragedy occurred after a nine-year-old girl got into difficulties in the resort's swimming pool (pictured) and her older brother and their father jumped into the water to save her

The tragedy occurred after a nine-year-old girl got into difficulties in the resort's swimming pool (pictured) and her older brother and their father jumped into the water to save her

The tragedy occurred after a nine-year-old girl got into difficulties in the resort’s swimming pool (pictured) and her older brother and their father jumped into the water to save her

A police van at the scene after a nine-year-old girl got into difficulties at the swimming pool of the Club La Costa World resort near Fuengirola this afternoon

A police van at the scene after a nine-year-old girl got into difficulties at the swimming pool of the Club La Costa World resort near Fuengirola this afternoon

A police van at the scene after a nine-year-old girl got into difficulties at the swimming pool of the Club La Costa World resort near Fuengirola this afternoon

Josias Fletchman, from Manchester, said in a moving account of how he tried to save them: ‘The mum was praying for them to come back to life.

‘She was calm. She was touching their bodies. She continued praying even after the ambulance people arrived and had stopped trying to revive them.

‘She exercised her faith to the limit. I was performing CPR on her husband but I’m a believer and I prayed as well.

‘She strengthened me in the way she reacted. It just wasn’t meant to be.’

Mr Diya was head of Open Heavens, a London branch of the Redeemed Christian Church of God network founded in Nigeria. He also ran his own property business.

His widow, an assistant pastor, is a systems analyst who owns her own software firm.

Praise-Emmanuel, a Bexley heath Grammar School student, was the only one of the five relatives who was not travelling on a British passport. Police described the teenager, thought to have been born in Illinois, as American in the wake of the tragedy.

The Redeemed Christian Church of God posted a tribute on Facebook yesterday/on Thursday which said: ‘With heavy hearts, we extend our condolences to the family, parish, friends and associates of Area Pastor Gabriel Diya who sadly passed away, along with two of his children in a tragic accident while on a family holiday in Spain.

‘At this very difficult time, our prayers are for Pastor Gabriel Diya’s family, the parishes that were under his supervision, friends, associates members of RCCGs and the general public.’

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