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Family distraught after four-year-old drowns in holiday pool

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A four-year-old British boy has drowned in a swimming pool in Spain.

The child is believed to be a member of a strictly Orthodox family from Golders Green, north west London.

Refoel Berkovits fell into the pool at a holiday villa the family were renting in Costa del Sol.

The boy was playing with other children at the time, as his parents 36-year-olds David and Dena Berkovits entertained friends at the large property in the Costa del Sol resort of Mijas.

The alert was raised by the teenage son of one of the friends after discovering the boy floating in the water.

Yitzchok Grosskopf,a doctor and one of the parents at the party, tried to resuscitate him before paramedics arrived.

He spent half an hour trying to save the boy but was unsuccessful and the boy was pronounced dead at the scene.

The tragedy happened just before 9pm on Sunday at the villa, which is a short drive from La Cala de Mijas, on the coast between Marbella and Fuengirola.

Refoel’s parents were too upset to speak at their home in Golders Green, but Dr Grosskopf told reporters: “The family have been making arrangements to return to the country at this difficult time. It is not a good time.”

An aunt of the boy said: “It’s a very sad and distressing story. We will leave it at that.”

The couple, have been described as “pillars of the community”, according to friends, who paid tribute to the little boy.

One told the Evening Standard: “We are in utter shock. They are such lovely people and well known for helping people out, this is just so cruel.”

Another added: “Refoel was such a nice child and we are all so very sorry for the family’s loss, they are very loving and warm and this is a sad day for us all.”

A funeral is expected to take place today after the family returned to the UK yesterday with his body.

Refoel, who it is believed had five siblings, is understood to have been running around the swimming pool at the back of the house with the older children when he fell in.

A spokesman for the Guardia Civil in Mijas said: “The boy was from a family who were staying at a house where there was a party being held. In the house there is a swimming pool.

“The child – a four-year-old – went into the swimming pool and could not swim, and he has died.”

A judge has been placed in charge of an investigation into the incident and the parents are believed to have instructed Spanish lawyers to prevent a traditional post mortem examination from being carried out on religious grounds.

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