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A sibling was suspected of drowning while trying to swim off the coast of Ireland on Thursday.

The 50-year-old man and 62-year-old woman were pronounced dead after they were salvaged from the water at Ballybunion Beach in County Kerry, southwest Ireland.

The incident has been described as a “horrific tragedy” and autopsies on the siblings will be carried out soon.

Emergency services rushed to the beach on Thursday night after being called to what is believed to be a teenage relative of the siblings.

The Irish Coast Guard said in a statement that the report was received shortly after 5pm about a person in Ballybunion in distress.

“Shannon-based Coast Guard Helicopter R115, Ballybunion Irish Community Rescue Ship and Kilrush RNLI were dispatched to the scene for a full search and rescue operation,” the statement read.

“A second person was rescued from the water by the Irish Ballybunion Community Rescue Boat shortly after.

“The man and woman were pronounced dead at the scene. The search was stopped after it was confirmed that no one else was missing.

“The Coast Guard extends its sympathies to the families of the two victims.”

Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan said the deaths were a “desperate tragedy” and expressed his “most sincere sympathies” to the families of the deceased and any witnesses.

“From our perspective at Co Limerick Ballybunion, Ballybunion is an extension of our own place,” Limerick TD said on RTE’s Today with Claire Byrne Show.

“We know this place very well. Some of my own extended family saw the commotion in Ballybunion.

“This is a desperate tragedy. At the moment you can’t describe the haze around northern Kerry and western Limerick.”

Local Sinn Fein MP Robert Beasley described the incident as a “horrific tragedy” that shocked the community.

The MP, who lives near Ballybunion Beach, told PA news agency: “There were a lot of people on the beach, maybe 600 or 700 people.

“I’ve met a lot of people on the cliffs and when they realised what was going on, men, women and children were leaving in droves and they were in a state of horrific pain.

“When I passed by an hour and a half ago, people were happy, building sandcastles and usually having a good time on the beach.

“Two people died within minutes of being on the water. It was horrific – a terrible tragedy. People were in shock beyond belief.”

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