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Police still searching sightseeing boat at centre of Bournemouth beach deaths

Inspections and searches have been continuing of the sightseeing boat at the centre of the investigation into the death of a teenager and child pulled from the sea in Bournemouth.

The boat has been impounded by Dorset Police after the incident on Wednesday, where a 12-year-old girl from Buckinghamshire and a 17-year-old boy from Southampton died.

Another eight people were treated by paramedics.

On Friday, the Dorset Belle remained at anchor at Cobb’s Quay, Poole Harbour, guarded by a police van.

Officials were seen on the boat continuing investigations into the vessel and any role it may have had in the incident.

A man in his 40s who was “on the water” at the time was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, and was released under investigation on Thursday while police inquiries continue.

According to the website Marine Traffic, the vessel had visited Bournemouth Pier, the scene of the incident, at 4pm, minutes before the first 999 calls were made, and returned again afterwards.

Police said no physical contact was made between the swimmers and any vessel or jet ski and those involved had not been jumping off the pier.

A spokesman for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council (BCP) earlier said: “We do not license this boat.”

The authority’s website says: “Any person who wishes to be in charge or navigate a pleasure boat/vessel, including Poole Harbour and Christchurch Harbour, for the purpose of letting it out for hire to members of the public, or to be used for carrying passengers for hire, must obtain a licence from us.”

A council spokeswoman said concerning the Dorset Belle, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is responsible for issuing licences to operate vessels of this size and capacity.

Police should provide more information to avoid ‘wild speculation’

It said the council does “not issue licences for vessels of this nature to operate in open water”.

Dorset Police declined to comment on any investigation into the Dorset Belle and refused to say what or if any vessel was involved.

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Bournemouth witness: ‘We knew it was serious’

Tobias Ellwood, Conservative MP for Bournemouth East, said he believed Dorset Police should provide more information to avoid “wild speculation”.

He added: “The police are conducting their investigation, there needs to be a review of the circumstances to see whether any safety measures and protocols need to be upgraded to ensure this doesn’t happen in the future.”

The vessel’s website states that it was purpose-built as a passenger boat to operate locally and could “cope with the occasional challenging swell conditions encountered at local piers”.

BCP’s website states that from April to October, yellow marker buoys are set out 200m from the low water mark to indicate that watercraft must not “go beyond six knots, annoy or endanger other beach users or run ashore or launch from the beach.”

Councillor Vicky Slade said: “There is no evidence to suggest any of those rules have been breached.

“We are confident with our partners that any lessons that need to be learned in the future will be learned.”

Dorset Police has said they are working with the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to investigate the incident.

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