Reaction of Mayor Remkes to the surfing tragedy in Scheveningen

Published: 12 May 2020Modified: 12 May 2020

Yesterday evening and last night a terrible tragedy struck around the northern harbour inlet in Scheveningen. Young, physically fit, sporty people, who know the sea like the back of their hand, somehow got into trouble. Five people lost their lives.

The heavy grief among people in the Scheveningen community is unfathomable. People here understand better than anybody else that ‘The sea gives and the sea takes’, but the way in which so many young lives ended abruptly and so many families and groups of friends have been affected is incredibly brutal.

I know that this does not provide any real consolation now, but I would like to let all the families affected know that we in The Hague are all standing around you.

I would like to express my enormous appreciation and gratitude to all of the rescue services. The professionals, and numerous volunteers, from the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM), Coast Guard, Police, Fire Brigade and GGD worked like maniacs to save what could still be rescued.

Literally. I witnessed this with my own eyes and I am deeply impressed.

It is still too early to definitively conclude what happened exactly and what combination of circumstances led to this fatal outcome. We of course will try to get to the bottom of this. How is it possible that such experienced surfers were completely taken by surprise at a spot they knew so well? But also: how is it possible that a drama unfolded at one harbour inlet while at the other harbour inlet, not even 100 metres away, people were still surfing until late in the evening?

All the rescue services were each involved in their own way during the unprecedented rescue and salvage operation yesterday evening, last night and today. To gain a good understanding of the possible causes and therefore also any possible solutions and changes for the future, the various rescue services will first be assessing their own individual performance before we bring all the various puzzle pieces together. The Haaglanden security region will release the first details of these findings sometime next week.

Today we remember the victims. Tomorrow we will start trying to understand what happened. I know that you have a hundred questions. We have the same questions. You can now ask your hundred questions a hundred times and I will tell you a hundred times: we are going to investigate this. But this will not bring our victims back. Our care and support now go out to them, their family and their friends.