11-year-old boy drowned while swimming in the Júcar River in Valencia

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river Júcar

Rescue personnel have located the body of the 11-year-old boy who had been missing since Thursday afternoon when he disappeared while swimming with a group of friends in the Júcar River, near the town of Alzira in Valencia.

Firefighters, National Police officers, and medical teams formed the search operation for the boy, as reported by the Emergency Coordination Centre (CCE) of the Generalitat and the Provincial Fire Consortium. The alert was received around 7.00 pm on Thursday, and firefighters and rescue groups with a helicopter, as well as a unit of forest firefighters from the Generalitat were dispatched to the area. Additionally, a SAMU unit, a boat, and the Consortium’s drone team, as well as a helicopter with a thermal camera from the National Police, were mobilised.

The Valencia Fire Consortium indicated that a group of minors was in the river, and one of them went out of sight, prompting the emergency services alert.

Red Cross sends psychologists to assist the boy’s family

The Red Cross has sent a team leader and a psychologist to support the family and friends of the deceased boy, as reported by the Generalitat’s emergency services. The search operation was reinforced on Friday morning with two more brigades of forest firefighters, joining the six already working in the area. 

The Júcar Hydrographic Confederation kept an environmental agent in the area after the request on Thursday to reduce the water flow from the Tous dam to facilitate the search, according to sources from the Generalitat Emergency Center and the Valencia Fire Consortium cited by RTVE.

The authorities also mobilizerd a helicopter with a thermal camera from the National Police, which directed the Advanced Command Post (PMA).

Júcar river

The Júcar River looks beautiful and inviting for a refreshing dip in warm weather, but it is in places a very fast-flowing river with unexpectedly cold water. The river is 509 kilometres long and starts in the Montes Universales, emptying into the Mediterranean Sea at Cullera, in the province of Valencia.

Safety tips for swimming in inland waters

According to the Informe Nacional de Ahogamientos by the Spanish Lifesaving Association, 420 people drowned in Spain in 2023. Of these, 63 people died in rivers, 47 in swimming pools, 231 in the sea, and 81 in other bodies of water. These numbers and the tragic incident with the 11-year-old boy in the Júcar highlight the importance of safety when swimming in rivers and lakes. Here are some essential tips for safe swimming in inland waters:

  • Check water quality: Always check the swimming water quality before swimming. Local authorities often provide information about the safety of swimming locations.
  • Swimming spots: Swim only in designated and safe swimming areas. Avoid swimming in unsecured waters where there may be dangerous currents or contaminants.
  • Hypothermia: Inland waters can be unexpectedly cold. Watch for signs of hypothermia such as shivering, pale skin, and exhaustion.
  • Safety during thunderstorms: Never swim during a thunderstorm. Water conducts electricity, and lightning can be deadly.
  • No dangerous stunts: Do not jump from bridges, rocks, or high objects into unknown water. Hidden obstacles could cause serious injury.
  • Companionship: Preferably do not swim alone. Always ensure there is company so help is available in case of emergency.
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