Three young French children drowned off the Normandy coast when a family’s motorboat was struck by a huge wave and capsized in windy conditions.
Three adults on board survived Monday’s drama, 800m (0.5 miles) off the Agon-Coutainville beach south of Cherbourg.
Rescuers were quickly on the scene, but the boat’s stern was under water, including the cabin where the children were trapped.
The sisters aged 13 and nine, and boy aged seven, could not be revived.
The mother of the two girls, interviewed by the daily Ouest-France, said “it all happened so quickly we had no time even to cry out”.
They had been returning to shore, she said, when she saw water in the boat. “I called for help, but then a huge wave tipped us over,” she added.
‘No time to get out’
The adults were outside the cabin, and the mother said the children could not swim but had life jackets on.
“They had no time to get out,” she explained. The girls’ father “tried to smash the cabin window, with his arm, his legs, then the boat’s anchor”.
French media report that rescuers on the Passous beach were alerted by someone who had spotted the boat in trouble.
A sailing school boat rushed to the scene, along with a helicopter and two sea rescue teams.
The head of the local SNSM sea rescue unit, Pascal Dutot, said “it was no time to go out, the sea was too choppy, it was too windy for a boat of just 5.50 metres [18ft]”.