'Angel' girl, 12, who died after incident off Bournemouth beach named as hundreds pay respects at funeral

3 June 2023, 10:33 | Updated: 4 June 2023, 07:42

The girl who died at Bournemouth beach last week has been named
The girl who died at Bournemouth beach last week has been named. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

The death of a 12-year-old girl who passed away after getting into trouble in the sea off Bournemouth beach has been named as Sunnah Khan.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Sunnah, who was from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, died in hospital after an incident in the sea off Bournemouth beach on Wednesday afternoon. A boy, aged 17, also died in hospital under similar circumstances. The two did not know each other.

The circumstances of the two teenagers' deaths remain unclear. Eight other people were treated by paramedics at the scene.

Sunnah's family paid tribute to her as "an absolute force of nature" adding that she was "liked by all and loved by so many".

The incident took place on Bournemouth beach
The incident took place on Bournemouth beach. Picture: Getty

Listen and subscribe to Unprecedented: Inside Downing Street on Global Player

"She will be so sorely missed by her parents, siblings and friends," they said.

"There are no words to describe the hole she has left in all of our hearts but we will remember her every day for the rest of our lives."

Mohammed Rafiq, 65, a trustee at the Wycombe Islamic Mission and Mosque, said: "What happened is tragic for the family. They are very hard-working and well respected here, this is a close-knit community.

“There were hundreds of people who came to the funeral, the queue was overflowing," he told the Sun.

Sunnah's friends joined in the tributes on social media.

One friend said: "You were too young to be taken from this world. My best friend and my reason to wake up every day."

The Dorset Belle has been impounded
The Dorset Belle has been impounded. Picture: Getty

Another said: "She was such an amazing person and her smile lit up a room. It was far too early for our angel to gain her wings.”

It comes as the head of Britain's top lifeguarding charity warned that sea swimmers must take care even in shallow water.

Lee Heard, charity director at the Royal Life Saving Society, told LBC: "Although it is shallow, even if you're standing in a couple of foot worth of water, even if it's only to your knees, you will feel the water moving you around.

"So there's a very light chance that underneath that pier, if there's a channel that's pushing you back out to see, it's going to push you against one of the piers, one of the groins."

Officers dismissed suggestions that a boat struck swimmers, saying today that "early investigation indicates that there was no physical contact between a vessel and any swimmers at the time of the incident".

Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Corrigan said: "Our thoughts remain very much with the loved ones of the two young people at this horrendous time and we are doing all we can to support their families.

"We are continuing with our investigation, which is still at the early stages, and would ask people not to speculate about the circumstances surrounding the incident to both protect our enquiries and out of respect for the victims' families.

Police rule out contact between swimmers and vessel off Bournemouth beach

Police are investigating the Dorset Belle, a pleasure boat, for potential links to their deaths. A man in his 40s - who was "on the water" at the time of the incident - was arrested and has since been released under investigation while enquiries continue, officers said.

The Dorset Belle, which can carry up to 80 guests, made several circuits in the waters off Bournemouth Pier on Wednesday, according to online tracker MarineTraffic, including around the time of the incident.

On Friday night the 49-year-old sea-going passenger boat Dorset Belle remained at anchor at Cobb's Quay, Poole Harbour, guarded by a police van.

Officials were seen on the boat on Friday continuing investigations into the vessel and any role it may have had in the incident.

A spokesman for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council earlier told the PA news agency: "We do not license this boat."

The authority's website says: "Any person who wishes to be in charge or navigate a pleasure boat/vessel, including Poole Harbour and Christchurch Harbour, for the purpose of letting it out for hire to members of the public, or to be used for carrying passengers for hire, must obtain a licence from us."

A council spokeswoman added: "Concerning the Dorset Belle, the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) is responsible for issuing licences to operate vessels of this size and capacity.

"BCP Council does not issue licences for vessels of this nature to operate in open water.

"We apologise and acknowledge that the website doesn't make this clear."

Read more: Waves from 'vessel' may have caused deaths of girl, 12, and boy, 17 at Bournemouth beach

Read more: Sick onlookers filmed medics as they tried to revive Bournemouth victims - as police urge people not to share footage

Speaking at a press conference in Bournemouth, Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Farrell also said there was no suggestion that people had been jumping into the sea from the pier or that jet skis were involved.

Boy and girl die following incident off Bournemouth beach

"We are working with partner agencies to understand what has caused the tragedy," the force said in a statement.

"We are investigating the circumstances that caused a number of swimmers to get into difficulty.

"Further information will be released as the investigation progresses."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

England manager Gareth Southgate has suggested his team are not fit enough

Gareth Southgate says England squad have 'limitations' after lacklustre start to Euro 2024

Just Stop Oil plans major disruption to summer holidays with private jet stunt just the start

Two Just Stop Oil protesters deny causing £52,000 worth of damage after private jets sprayed with orange paint

Sir Keir Starmer, (L), and Kemi Badenoch

‘We are not rejoining the EU’: Starmer shuts down Badenoch’s claim Labour want to ‘reverse Brexit’

Rowling criticises Sir Keir along with several members of his shadow cabinet

JK Rowling 'struggling to support' Labour over Sir Keir's stance on transgender rights that's 'abandoning' women

Taylor Swift poses with the Royal Family

Taylor Swift takes selfie with William, George and Charlotte - as Prince of Wales spotted dancing away to ‘Shake It Off’

Chris Packham has blamed the media for the radical action of Just Stop Oil

Environmental activist Chris Packham blames media for existence of Just Stop Oil

Starmer labels Farage's comments 'disgraceful'

Farage’s comments on Ukraine are ‘disgraceful’, Starmer tells LBC, as PM accuses him of ‘playing into Putin’s hands’

Timberlake was arrested after having dinner with friends on Long Island

Justin Timberlake breaks silence on drink-driving arrest at Chicago concert

Nigel Farage

General Election LIVE: Tories rally against Farage after Reform leader says West provoked Russia into invading Ukraine

Dr Michael Mosley and his wife, Clare.

‘We miss him so much’: Michael Mosley’s widow says she will continue his work in emotional tribute

Temperatures are expected to soar to 30C

Exact date Brits to bask in 30C heat as Met Office predicts first official heatwave of summer

The four individuals were given sentences ranging from four to four-and-a-half years

Four members of Britain's richest family handed jail sentences after exploiting servants in Geneva villa

Jay Slater had travelled to the Canary Islands for a music festival

Search for missing British teenager in Tenerife hindered by social media conspiracy theories

Damage can be seen to a front window law enforcement officers work the scene of a shooting at the Mad Butcher grocery store in Fordyce, Ark

Three killed and 10 injured in shooting at supermarket in Arkansas

Jay Slater had travelled to the Canary Islands for a music festival

Spanish police reject help from Lancashire Constabulary as desperate search for missing Brit Jay Slater continues

Kemi Badenoch has warned that Labour will reverse Brexit

Keir Starmer will 'reverse Brexit' if Labour wins election, Kemi Badenoch warns