An ‘utterly heartbroken’ mother whose two children and husband drowned at a Costa Del Sol hotel said she believes ‘something was wrong with the pool’ because all three knew how to swim.
Olubunmi Diya’s husband Gabriel and children Comfort and Praise-Emmanuel died in the Spanish pool on Christmas Eve after her daughter got into difficulty in the water.
It is understood Comfort, nine, began to struggle in the water after slipping and, failing to regain her footing, began to drift towards the deep end of the six-and-a-half feet pool at Club La Costa World near Fuengirola at 2pm.
Praise-Emmanuel, 16, jumped into the pool followed by their father Gabriel, 52, after hearing the screams of the couple’s daughter Favour, who had been playing with Comfort moments beforehand.
It was initially said the trio, who lived in Charlton, south east London, did not know how to swim properly.
But the mother told Sky News today that something must have been ‘wrong with the pool that made swimming difficult for them at that point in time’.
Gabriel Diya is pictured with his wife Olubunmi, who was on holiday with him and their three children when the tragedy struck 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
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
In a statement, she said: ‘The whole family, all five of us went to the pool together and were all present when the incident occurred.
‘The children were not left unattended. We followed the instructions displayed by the poolside at all times. Our family are utterly heartbroken by the events last Tuesday, but we are comforted and strengthened by our strong faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
‘We are deeply shocked, saddened and struggling to come to terms with their passing. They all brought a joy and love to the world and to everyone that crossed their path.
‘We love them all dearly, will always remember them in our hearts and miss them greatly.’
Mrs Diya’s comments contradict earlier reports that her surviving daughter, Favour, had claimed the family didn’t know how to swim.
Francisco Gonzalez, a spokesman for the Civil Guard union AUGC, said: ‘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.’
Hotel operator CLC World Resorts and Hotels previously said inquiries had found ‘no concerns relating to the pool in question’ and the incident appeared to be a ‘tragic accident’.
A statement said: ‘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.’
Club La Costa World added investigations into the tragedy confirmed the pool was ‘working normally and there was no malfunction of any kind.’
It added: ‘Our sympathies remain with the family at what we understand must be a stressful and desperately upsetting time for them’.
After the tragedy, 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, Diario Sur reported.
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’.
It was initially claimed that none of the trio knew how to swim when they entered the pool on Tuesday (Pictured: Gabriel and Praise-Emmanuel)
The children’s mother Olubunmi, 49, is understood to have been in the family’s hotel room at the time. (Pictured: Gabriel with son Praise-Emmanuel and daughter Favour)
Early speculation pointed to possible problems with the pool suction side of the circulation system.
It was reported on Thursday that Comfort’s swimming cap had been found in the pool 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 a dangerous suction entrapment when they were in the water after the tragedy.
It was later claimed 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 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.
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
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 Britons 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 on Saturday after a week-long holiday, are currently being comforted by relatives who flew to Spain from Britain.
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
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.’