Millions have made their way to the beach this week as a heatwave sears through much of South Australia, prompting authorities to make a desperate plea.
Hundreds of people in New South Wales have been rescued in recent days as several tragic incidents underscore the danger faced by residents and emergency services.
On Wednesday Premier Dominic Perrottet urged those heading to the beach, pool or river to put water safety first – revealing that more than 630 people have been rescued from the water since Christmas Day.
“While it has been great to see people across NSW flocking to the beach, river or pool this holiday, I urge everyone to continue to remain vigilant and stay safe in the water,” he said.
“We’ve seen an increase in the number of swimmers getting into fights.”
At Coogee Beach in Sydney, Mr Perrottet said the holiday peak was worrying as 4,000 rescues are carried out across the state each year.
The summer celebrations have been marred by a string of deadly incidents, with three fatalities since December 25.
A 36-year-old man was pulled from the Hawkesbury River in north-west Sydney at around 5.15pm on Christmas Day after failing to resurface.
A NSW Police spokesman said he had lunch with friends before going into the water.
The death was the second tragedy in the area, after a 16-year-old boy drowned while swimming just 10 days earlier.
On Tuesday, two girls, ages 13 and 14, died in a boating accident in Rushes Creek, upstate.
It is believed the couple were being towed on a rubber dinghy when they crashed into a tree stump.
A search resumed on Wednesday for a male swimmer who witnesses believe failed to surface in the Murrumbidgee River near Wagga Wagga the night before.
Five people have also died in Victoria and South Australia since Christmas Day.
Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steve Pearce said last year had been the deadliest on record, with 55 fatalities.
We don’t want that to happen again,” he said.
“One drowning is one too many. We want everyone to be able to enjoy our beaches and waterways safely, and we want everyone to remember their vacation for the right reasons.”
Originally released as an urgent warning as millions head to New South Wales beaches during a heatwave