Three children died and one was left in critical condition after they fell into a frozen lake in central England Sunday as large parts of the country contend with severe winter weather.
The boys – ages 6, 8, 10, and 11 – were rushed to a hospital in the West Midlands, about 100 miles north of London, after uniformed police officers pulled the boys out of the icy lake. The oldest three suffered from cardiac arrest and could not be revived, police said.
The 6-year old remained in critical condition.
“The boys’ deaths are a tragedy beyond words,” Richard Stanton of the local fire and rescue service said during a news conference.
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Emergency services were called to the scene just after 2:30 p.m. local time Sunday. Local media reported several members of the public also attempted to assist in the rescue.
Emergency responders worked overnight into Monday morning trying to locate two other children who were reported to have been with the group of boys. It is still unclear whether those two children were also victims of the incident. However, West Midlands Police Superintendent Richard Harris stated authorities have not received contact in relation to any missing children.
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“It’s important to stress … that we’ve had no contact from anybody suggesting that there’s anybody else missing, but until we’re 100% certain we will be carrying on searches throughout the course of today,″ Harris said.
Harris declined to comment on whether the children were part of a single family.
Harris also stated one of his officers was treated for mild hypothermia but has been released from the hospital.
“The officers went straight in, without regard for their own safety. They entered the water in just a normal trousers and shoes,” Harris said.
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A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Sunak extended his condolences, calling it “a tragic incident,” according to Reuters.
“The prime minister’s thoughts are with them and obviously he passes his thanks to the emergency services who are continuing to work and provide support,” the spokesperson said.
The incident comes as the United Kingdom faces heavy snow and extremely low temperatures. Snow has covered parts of Britain as of Monday morning, disrupting air and land travel.
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Parts of London’s underground transit system were suspended or issued delay warnings. Both Gatwick and Stansted airports in London warned flight schedules could be disrupted as a result of the weather.
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Temperatures have already dropped to -15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) in Northern Scotland, with the Met Office confirming it as the coldest night of the year. Additional weather warnings will be issued throughout Scotland and northeast England starting Tuesday.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.