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Indian doctor drowns during Spain rescue

London, April 7: An Indian woman doctor and one of her relatives drowned yesterday while trying to rescue two children off the coast of the Spanish holiday island of Tenerife in the Canaries, the British foreign office confirmed today.

The women were named as Uma Ramalingam, 42, a consultant obstetrician, and her relative, Barathi Ravikumar, 39. The women were pronounced dead at the scene.

They got into trouble while trying to rescue two children, aged 14 and 10, who were swept out by a wave in the resort of Playa Paraiso.

The children were pulled out and though one was suffering from hypothermia, they survived, as did a woman of 38, who was similarly rescued. A fourth woman was involved, it later emerged. It seems all belonged to the same Indian holiday group who were sharing a seaside apartment.

Tenerife, which has an agreeable climate and is only four hours away from Heathrow, attracts 1.5 million British tourists a year. Indian men and women now get seduced into entering the tempting but occasionally deceptive sea. However, unlike British holidaymakers who are taught to swim from an early age, Indians are generally not very good in the water.

A Guardia Civil spokeswoman said: “It appears that the two women were dragged into the sea by a wave yesterday at around 6pm in Playa Paraiso. We can confirm that both were British and both were relatives, although we are not certain how they were related at the moment.”

A spokesman for the foreign and commonwealth office said: “We can confirm the deaths of two British nationals in Tenerife on April 6. We are in touch with the authorities and are providing consular assistance with the families.”

Apart from the personal aspect of the tragedy, Britain’s stretched National Health Service can ill afford to lose a consultant obstetrician.

Records show Ramalingam got her MBBS from Tamil Nadu’s Dr MGR Medical University in 1994. She registered in Britain in 2003 and qualified in obstetrics and gynaecology in November 2009.

Ramalingam, from Altrincham, Cheshire, worked at the Royal Oldham Hospital’s women and children’s unit. She was described by a colleague as “a fantastic doctor”.

Olubusola Amu, consultant and clinical director of Women and Children Services at the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We are greatly saddened to hear the death of Uma, who had been working for the trust for about six years. She was a fantastic doctor who brought a lot of hope to the high-risk women attending the women and children’s unit at the Royal Oldham Hospital.”

“This is a terrible shock to everyone who knew Uma,” she added. “Our thoughts are with her family at this sad time. She will be sorely missed.”

Later it was confirmed that Ravikumar, a partner at the Heath Surgery, Bracebridge Heath, in Lincoln, is also a doctor. Ravikumar, a mother-of-two, was described as “a hardworking and dedicated GP” who “always worked in the best interests of patients”.

A statement on her surgery’s website said: “During her short time with the practice she was passionate about making a difference to healthcare in Lincolnshire and specialised in working with Looked After Children.”

 
 
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