Two members of the U.K. metal outfit AFTER DEATH drowned on Thursday (January 21) while swimming at the Atalaia beach in Aracaju, in the northeastern part of Brazil. 21-year-old guitarist Leon Villalba and 18-year-old bassist Timothy Kennelly, along with their bandmates, were in the middle of an extensive tour of Brazil as the support act for MASTER when the incident occurred.
Villalba and Kennelly were reportedly swimming at the beach around 2:30 p.m. when another beachgoer noticed a floating body and alerted the local lifeguard rescue team. An attempt was made to resuscitate Villalba using CPR, but he didn't respond. Kennedy's body is still missing.
Drummer Barry O'Connor told the BBC News all five bandmembers went to the deserted beach at about midday on Thursday and he and the other two musicians started "messing around" in the waves.
"The waves started getting heavier and I came out, but Tim and Leon went our further and looked really confident.
"The next thing I know, I heard Leon screaming 'help, help, help.' Tim heard him and turned around and swam toward him, he exerted lots of energy doing that and by the time he got to Leon, he was struggling also."
He said the other two band members — Marc Yacas, 22, and Toby "Kendo" Westbourne, 21 — could not hear his shouts for help at first but soon summoned help including a surfboarder who started searching.
"After 20 minutes Leon's body washed up on the shore, his body was limp and he'd gone white. We pulled him out and I tried to resuscitate him with mouth to mouth.
"There was so much water, he had foam and water coming from his mouth, it was unbelievable. We did our best."
The search for Timothy's body will continue on Friday with air support, since the area to be covered is very wide.
Atalaia is considered to be the fourth most dangerous beach in Brazil, even though it's one of the most popular in Aracaju, the capital of Sergipe, which is the smallest Brazilian state by area.
The incident is currently being investigated by the homicide division of the Department of Public Safety.
O'Connor told the BBC News all two other bands on the tour would continue to play but he and his other two bandmembers would be heading home to Britain.
He said: "The tour was great for everyone, and this was my first time out of the U.K. But when we get back to London I'll probably tear up my passport, we're just trying to keep our heads together."
A spokesman for the band's record label, Death Toll Records, confirmed the deaths and said it was "unbelievable" and "so sad."
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: "We have seen reports of the deaths of two British nationals and are urgently investigating."
According to ThisIsLondon.co.uk, a family friend today paid tribute to Kennelly who was on a gap year and due to start a physics degree at York University in September.
Edward Doyle said the teenager's parents Rosemary and Diarmuid had been devastated by the news but were "hoping against hope" that he may be found alive.
Doyle said, "Timothy was the heart of his family. He could light up a room and was always laughing and joking. He was a very talented musician but very intelligent also and wanted to go to university. The trip was just meant to be part of his gap year."
Brazilian media coverage of the tragedy: