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1 Dead, 40 Rescued From Rip Currents

Panama City Beach has double red flags flying
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2019 1:28 PM CDT

(Newser) – One person is dead and dozens of others had to be rescued Sunday in Panama City Beach, Florida, because of strong rip currents. Double red flag warnings were in place on the beach, and in a Facebook post Sunday, Panama City Beach Fire Rescue pleaded with beachgoers not to ignore them: "Please avoid getting in the water. The decision to ignore the warnings has impacts far beyond the swimmer that becomes distressed." According to ABC News, people could be seen forming a human chain to rescue one swimmer. Officials say 40 water rescues were required. The fatality was a 67-year-old man who was pulled from the water around 6:14pm unresponsive, per 97.3.

Rip currents or rip tides, which flow perpendicular to shore and can carry people away from the shore, are formed by narrow, fast-moving sections of water traveling in an offshore direction; they can get up to speeds of 8 feet per second, which is faster than any Olympic swimmer on record, according to NOAA. People caught in a rip current are advised to swim parallel to shore to escape it, rather than attempting to swim back toward the shore. According to MyPanhandle.com, the rip tides currently affecting Panama City Beach are due to Tropical Storm Barry in the Gulf of Mexico. (A teen swept away by a rip current survived 10 hours in the water.)

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