Tributes paid to family who died at Costa del Sol resort

26 December 2019, 14:06 | Updated: 26 December 2019, 18:41

Gabriel Diya was a pastor in south east London
Gabriel Diya was a pastor in south east London. Picture: Facebook: Redeemed Christian Church of God
Sylvia De Luca

By Sylvia De Luca

Spanish police have named the man and his two children who died on Christmas Eve in a swimming pool on the Costa del Sol.

Gabriel Diya, 52, his daughter Comfort Diya, 9, and his son Praise-Emmanuel Diya, 16, all died in the pool at Club La Costa World, near Fuengirola in Spain.

The father and daughter were both British passport holders while the brother had an American passport.

Gabriel Diya was a parish pastor at The Redeemed Christian Church of God in London.

The church paid tribute to the former pastor and his children on Facebook writing, "With heavy hearts, we extend our condolences to the family, parish, friends and associates of Area Pastor Gabriel Diya who sadly passed away, along with two of his children - Comfort Diya (9 years old) and Praise Emmanuel Diya (16 years old) - in a tragic incident while on a family holiday in Spain on 24th December 2019.

"Pastor Gabriel Diya, who was also the Parish Pastor of Open Heavens, Charlton in London was aged 52. He is survived by his wife Assistant Pastor Olubunmi Diya and their daughter.

"At this very difficult time, our prayers are for Pastor Gabriel Diya's family, the parishes that were under his supervision, friends, associates, members of RCCG and the general public."

With heavy hearts, we extend our condolences to the family, parish, friends and associates of Area Pastor Gabriel Diya...

Posted by Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Central Office, UK on Thursday, 26 December 2019

Hundreds of people commented on the church's tribute post, with one writing: "So sad to learn of this tragic accident and the loss of a loving father and two of his children."

Another wrote: "What a loss. May God give his wife, daughter and parish the fortitude to bear the loss. May their souls rest in peace."

A neighbour of the Diya family said she was "really devastated" to learn of the deaths of Mr Diya and two of his children.

Speaking outside her home in Charlton, Lara Akins told the PA news agency: "I still can't comprehend it, it's still shocking."

The 59-year-old described the family, who she said had lived in the south-east London close for around 10 years, as "very religious, very friendly, very humble".

She added: "They are so nice, that is why everybody is shocked."

The church of Pastor Gabriel Diya has paid tribute to him
The church of Pastor Gabriel Diya has paid tribute to him. Picture: Facebook: Redeemed Christian Church of God

Daughter Comfort Diya is thought to have got into difficulties while in the water and her brother and father attempted to rescue her from danger - but police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Police also said divers retrieved Comfort Diya's swimming hat from the pool pump.

The Foreign Office said it was supporting a British woman in Spain, thought to be the children's mother.

A swimming pool at the Club La Costa World holiday resort near Malaga, Spain
A swimming pool at the Club La Costa World holiday resort near Malaga, Spain. Picture: PA

The hotel owners earlier said that the deaths were a "tragic accident" and claim there were "no faults" with the swimming pool, which has since reopened.

The three family members were found unresponsive in a swimming pool at Club La Costa World on Christmas Eve, a statement from holiday operator CLC World Resorts and Hotels said.

The hotel group said: "The Guardia Civil have carried out a full investigation which found no concerns relating to the pool in question or procedures in place, which leaves us to believe this was a tragic accident which has left everyone surrounding the incident in shock.

Three people died in a swimming pool at the Club La Costa World holiday resort
Three people died in a swimming pool at the Club La Costa World holiday resort. Picture: PA

"Naturally, our primary concern remains the care and support of the remaining family members."

Local reports said Spanish police have been investigating the pump and suction system for a possible failure, as well as testing the water.

On its website, Club La Costa World says the resort "boasts a stunning hillside location between Malaga and Marbella on Spain’s sunny Costa del Sol".

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