A man has died and another has been injured after a group of four swimmers were caught in a rip tide off a Norfolk beach.

Two men aged 54 and 26 were pulled unconscious from the waves at Sea Palling, near Great Yarmouth, after multiple people raised the alarm on Saturday morning.

Emergency services said both men were “in cardiac arrest” when they arrived, but they had been able to revive the younger man, who was airlifted to hospital in Norwich and is said to be in a stable condition.

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However, according to an ambulance service spokesperson, the 54-year-old died at the scene, which Tim Ash from the RNLI described as a “major incident”.

“Four casualties, all males, got into difficulties in the sea in a rip at Sea Palling,” he said, adding that it was about “800m away from the lifeguarded area”.

“Two of the lifeguards were on the shoreline and they ran down - when they got there the four casualties were all on land."

A lifeguard station on Sea Palling beach (Press Association)

According to the coastguard, a number of people had gone into the water to help.

“A 26-year-old male was not breathing and a 54-year-old male was not breathing. Both had been pulled out by members of the public," said Mr Ash.

“The other two casualties – a 16-year-old boy and a man in his 20s – got out under their own power with some difficulties and didn't need assistance.”

Fast-flowing rip currents, often referred to as rip tides, sometimes appear as a rippled patch of sea in calm water and can be powerful enough to carry people and debris away from the shoreline.

According to the National Geographic, rip tides are one of the world’s most dangerous natural hazards.

They move at up to five miles an hour – faster than the average swimmer, who can swim at approximately two miles an hour.

Mr Ash said the RNLI’s standard advice for everyone was to only swim at lifeguarded beaches between the red and yellow flags.

Lloyd Gladding, who has lived near the seafront in Sea Palling for nine years, said it was well-known there were dangerous currents in the area, according to the Eastern Daily Press.

He had witnessed other rescues, often of divers, but this was the most serious he had seen, he told the newspaper.

Mark Ebbage, 56, of Norwich, was with his family at Sea Palling beach when the tragedy unfolded.

“We saw the air ambulance arrive to treat someone," he told the Press Association. “They put somebody on a boat and brought it up the beach, then we saw a body bag.

“There were probably around 15 different emergency vehicles here [...] One minute they're swimming away enjoying themselves and then this happens. ”It's very sad."

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