‘Unimaginable grief’: Body still missing

The Netherlands is in "unimaginable grief" following the deaths of five experienced surfers caught in a freak "foam avalanche" on Tuesday.

The search for the body of the fifth man was on Thursday morning (AEST) called off for a second night with emergency services expected to resume the search on Thursday evening (AEST).

The Dutch Coast Guard said three people were rescued from the sea on Tuesday, two of whom were later pronounced dead.

The third - a 40-yeard-old man - was taken to hospital and has since been released from care.

Two more bodies were discovered on Wednesday while a fifth body was seen floating in the waters but out of reach of rescuers.

The man, from the nearby town of Delft, is yet to be identified. Local authorities have confirmed the five dead surfers were between the ages of 22 and 38.

The search team looking for the fifth body reportedly includes an underwater robot to search the area around the rocky southern harbour head.



One person - a 23-year-old - is still unaccounted for, The Sun reports.

The experienced group got into trouble after strong northerly winds and currents whipped up the icy sea five hours after they took to the water off The Hague.

Local official Pat Smith said they lost their bearings off Scheveningen Harbour after being swamped by the spongy deluge.

Witnesses told how the surfers vanished under a layer of sea foam on the surface of the water.

It was reported to be so thick it was very difficult for surfers to get back on their boards to return to shore if they fell off.

Smith said: "They disappeared under the foam like it was some sort of avalanche.

"I knew two of these guys very well. Like me, they were internationally trained lifeguards.



"They have worked in Australia and received a lot of training from an international water sports association but they got lost in the foam."

Officials said Tuesday the group likely couldn't deal with the combination of heavy weather, northerly winds and swells that hit the Dutch coast.

The local surfing community has gathered at the town's surf school to pay their respects.

A memorial site has been established at The Shore Surf Club with locals leaving flowers and emotional tributes.

Smith said it has been super painful for the community to try to pick up the pieces and carry on. Locals have also stayed out of the water in recent days out of respect for the dead.

"I've seen them grow big in the sea. From water rats to watermen, " Smith said according to Hart van Nederland.



"If five acquaintances are taken from life, it is super painful."

The Hague's mayor Johan Remkes spoke of "unimaginable grief in Scheveningen" - according to rtlnieuws.nl.

The Holland Surfing Association released a brief statement on its website to state the organisation "is in deep mourning".

Another surf school based in Scheveningen, known as Jumpteam, wrote on its Facebook page that the tragedy is a "black day in the history of Scheveningen".

Local news site NOS reports two of the dead surfers were members of the school.

The search for the 23-year-old's body resumes on Thursday evening.

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