Two more bodies have been found at Camber Sands, taking the total who died at the Sussex beach on Wednesday to five after three men died earlier.
Emergency services rushed to the scene at 2.10pm to rescue a man struggling in the sea. At 2.20pm another man was rescue and 15 minutes later a third man was pulled from the water.
They died “despite efforts to save them”, police said. They have not yet been named.
One witness claimed they all received CPR on the beach. An air ambulance attended the scene.
On Wednesday evening, the RNLI confirmed two more bodies had been found.
One was found on the beach and one in the water after the tide receded. They were found at around 8.30pm.
Eyewitness Natalja Taylor told The BBC the police drove on to the beach and spoke through a loudspeaker, telling people to stay out of the water and taping off part of the beach to deny people entry.
She said: “It’s pretty scary. I’m not sure how it happened. We decided not to go into the sea after seeing warning signs about some kind of fish.
“It wasn’t particularly windy down there, it was just a hot, sunny beach day.”
Police were encouraging people to come out of the sea after the mens’ deaths.
Speaking after the first three deaths were confirmed, Chief Superintendent Di Roskilly said; “We are working with Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Royal National Lifeboat Institute, South East Coast Ambulance and Rother District Council to clear the beach and encourage people to come out of the sea while we are investigating this incident.
“We are also asking people to stay away from Camber for the afternoon and evening to assist emergency services in managing this incident.
“This has been an incredibly tragic situation and very traumatic for those who were there on the beach at the time. At this stage we do not know who the men are and are doing all we can to establish their identities.”
These five deaths follow six deaths around Britain’s coast at the weekend, amid stormy weather conditions.
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