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Kurnell Sydney drownings: Two women named as victims of freak wave that swept them off rocks as local Indian community mourns


A close-knit Indian community in Sydney is mourning the deaths of two mothers who were swept off rocks and drowned while enjoying a picnic with their young families.

Indian nationals Marwa Hashim and Nirsha Haris have been identified as victims of the tragedy after the pair were washed off the edge of a cliff face into the ocean at Cape Solander, Kurnell Lookout in Sydney’s south, about 4.30pm on Monday. .

Ms Hashim, 35, and Ms Haris, 38, were among a group of five people walking on a ledge when a «freak wave» hit them and swept them out to sea.

Marwa’s sister, Roshna Hashim, was also swept away but managed to scramble back onto the rocks and was helped to shore by passers-by.

Marwa and Nirsha were not only best friends, but both were also mothers.

Ms Hashim came to Australia in 2017 to work as an architect, but in recent years has worked as a senior planner at Transport for NSW.

Her friend Haris previously worked in public relations, Nine News reported.

Marwa Hashim (pictured right) and Nirsha Haris (pictured left) have been identified as the victims of the horror incident on Monday at Cape Solander, a lookout at Kurnell in Sydney’s south.

Ms Hashim’s sister Roshna suffered minor injuries and was treated for hypothermia.

She was taken to St George’s Hospital where she remains in a stable condition.

Two other bystanders were also treated for hypothermia.

The Sydney Malaylee Association confirmed the deaths of both women in a heartbreaking Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon.

The Malayalis are an ethnic group originating from Kerala, a state in southern India.

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«The Sydney Malayalee community is saddened by the horrific and sudden death of two of our members, Marwa Hashim and Nirsha Haris,» the post read.

“The Sydney Malayalee Association extends our sincere condolences to the bereaved families.

Friends urged the Australian government to help arrange visas so their families in India could travel to their funerals.

The Sydney Malayalee Association confirmed the deaths of the two women in a heartbreaking social media post on Tuesday.  Pictured is Nirsha Haris

The Sydney Malayalee Association confirmed the deaths of the two women in a heartbreaking social media post on Tuesday. Pictured is Nirsha Haris

Nirsh's best friend Marwa Hashim (pictured) also drowned in the long weekend tragedy.

Nirsh’s best friend Marwa Hashim (pictured) also drowned in the long weekend tragedy.

Emergency services, including paramedics and police officers, went to the scene and launched a large-scale search and rescue operation.

Three rescue helicopters searched for the pair before rescuers arrived.

Two unconscious women were pulled from the water, but they could not be revived despite the best efforts of rescuers.

Bystander Rabih Yassinne was hailed as a hero after he helped pull Rosna from the water after Marwa’s husband approached him for help.

«He came to me, please help, (he said) please, people are drowning down there,» Yashinne told Nine News.

“I took her out, it was very, very difficult because the wool was so heavy.

“We managed to get her out and she was unconscious.

NSW Maritime Area Commander Police Commander Joe McNulty offered his condolences to the families and loved ones of both women.

«They went there with good intentions to enjoy a public holiday on NSW’s best coast, went down a wet, slippery rock platform and ended up being swept off the rocks by a crazy wave,» Superintendent McNulty said.

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According to him, large waves often hit the rocks and the water exerts a lot of pressure, which can be dangerous for visitors to the popular lookout.

«When the wave hits that (rock platform), the wave builds up and has a significant amount of extra force that would knock those people off their feet and pull them back into the water,» he said.

Rescuers rushed to the scene to begin a search and rescue operation.  Bystanders are pictured consoling each other after two women drowned

Rescuers rushed to the scene to begin a search and rescue operation. Bystanders are pictured consoling each other after two women drowned

He warned people visiting the beach, especially those who are not confident swimmers, to stay close to the water’s edge and stand back if they want to catch a glimpse of the waves.

«Never turn your back on the ocean. Always be prepared when you visit any rock platform, any beach, any place where there are big waves, you have to be careful,” he said.

Cape Solander is a popular spot to spot humpback whales, which swim close to the prize during the winter months.

A crime scene was set up in the area on Monday afternoon as police launched an investigation.

«No suspicious circumstances have been identified at this time,» the statement said.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.



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