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A mother and her three children are being treated in hospital for serious injuries following a speedboat accident which killed her husband and daughter.
The family were on holiday in the picturesque coastal town of Padstow, Cornwall, when they were thrown from the speedboat which went "out of control'' and struck them.
The 51-year-old man and his eight-year-old daughter were declared dead at the scene yesterday afternoon his 39-year-old wife, a four-year-old boy and two girls aged 10 and 12 were airlifted to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth with a range of injuries, some of which Superintendent Jim Colwell of Devon and Cornwall Police described as "life threatening'' as well as "life changing''.
The family, from London, was in Cornwall for the Bank Holiday weekend when the accident happened in the Camel Estuary near Padstow shortly before 4pm.
The popular harbour area was bristling with people enjoying the sunshine who watched the accident unfold just half a mile off the shore.
Witnesses claimed heroic actions by passers-by prevented more lives being lost.
Writing on Facebook, Maria Chase said: "We were down in Padstow today and saw the tragedy and saw a hero who saved more lives by jumping on to an out-of-control speedboat from another boat.''
Charlotte Jacobs took to Twitter to write to the RNLI, saying: "We witnessed incredible bravery in Padstow today during the tragic accident that unfolded. The men involved deserve medals.''
Locals have expressed their shock at the tragic events. Chef Paul Ainsworth wrote on Twitter: "Very sad day in Padstow, our hearts go out to all family and friends involved. Life can be so cruel.''
Celebrity chef Rick Stein, who has four restaurants in Padstow, tweeted: "Our thoughts are with injured and bereaved involved in the tragic accident in Padstow this afternoon.''
999 operators received their first call from a mobile phone at 3.48pm and were inundated with more calls seconds later.
A major search and rescue operation was launched involving RNLI lifeboats from Rock and Padstow, helicopters from RNAS Culdrose and RNB Chivenor and coastguard rescue teams from Newquay, St Merryn and Polzeath.
The man and girl who died are yet to be formally identified, but their next of kin have been informed.
The police force has launched an investigation and the boat, which was owned by the family, has been taken away for examination.
Supt Colwell said the boat is privately owned by the family and that consideration of what the boat was doing at the time of the incident, and a mechanical examination of it, would also feature in the investigation.