(News Investigators) Tributes have been paid to a British man and his two children who drowned in a resort swimming pool on the Costa del Sol on Christmas Eve.
Gabriel Diya, 52, his daughter Comfort Diya, 9, and his son Praise-Emmanuel Diya, 16, died in the pool at Club La Costa World, near Fuengirola.
Diya was originally from Ile-Ife, Nigeria and a pastor at Open Heavens London in Charlton, South-east London, which is part of a network called the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
Police say they are checking claims the young girl got into difficulties and the other two died trying to save her.
The church where Diya was a pastor said its prayers were with the family.
“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… in a tragic incident while on a family holiday in Spain.
“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,” the post added.
Diya was survived by his wife, assistant pastor Olubunmi Diya and another daughter.
A neighbour of the family told the PA news agency she was “really devastated” to learn of the deaths, describing the Diyas as “very religious, very friendly, very humble”.
Speaking outside her home in Charlton, Lara Akins, 59, added: “I still can’t comprehend it, it’s still shocking. They are so nice, that is why everybody is shocked… we are very friendly with each other.”
The hotel owners described the incident as a “tragic accident”.
Police said divers retrieved Comfort’s swimming hat from the pool pump but investigators had found nothing wrong with the pool, which has since reopened.
Because the pool is a very small one, lifeguards were “not necessary” so there were none present, a spokesman for the Spanish Civil Guard told the BBC.
The UK Foreign Office said it was supporting a British woman in Spain, thought to be the children’s mother.
Diya and his daughter were both British passport holders while his son had an American passport.
In a statement released on Thursday, the owners of Club La Costa World said the resort “continues to co-operate fully with the authorities investigating this appalling tragedy”.
“Naturally, we will continue to offer every assistance and comply fully and transparently with any requests made by them.
“At the same time, we are doing everything possible to provide care and support to bereaved family members and to all our other guests,” they added.