Some 220 people had to be rescued from lake Balaton this year, leader of the Balaton Water Police Department told wire service MTI on Monday. Sadly, 13 people drowned in the lake so far in 2021, a number already much higher than in 2020, when eight people died at Hungary’s number one holiday destination.
László Horváth highlighted that most of the deaths occurred in warm, shallow water close to the shore: elderly people became ill, or inadequate swimming skills and lack of water safety led to tragedy.
In perhaps the most shocking case, which just happened on Sunday afternoon, two brothers drowned in the lake after having gone out on the water on pool floats at Alsóbélatelep (close to Fonyód, on the Southern shore). According to press reports, the boys, aged 13 and 17, had been swimming with their family several times and knew how to swim to some extent. The case is now being investigated according to administrative protocol.
A girl was luckier on Saturday evening, Horváth claimed. The 10-year-old went missing with her SUP board. A police officer from Balatonföldvár, however, managed to spot the frightened, exhausted child floating roughly one kilometer offshore, without a life jacket.
The official asks people to observe warnings made public on the police website, the most important of which is avoiding going into the water alone, especially in the hottest hours when a minor sickness can potentially be fatal. Wearing a life jacket is equally important, he added.
The Balaton water police asks anyone who is in trouble or sees someone in trouble to call 112, or the free water emergency number 1817.
featured image illustration via György Varga/MTI