updated 10/23/2007 1:23:46 PM ET 2007-10-23T17:23:46

Four tourists — three Britons and a German — drowned in southern Portugal when they tried to rescue three children from the sea, officials said Tuesday. The children survived.

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The children — a British boy and British and German girls, aged between 9 and 11 — were in the surf on a beach near Sagres, about 120 miles south of Lisbon, when they were caught by a strong current and cried out for help Monday, the southern Algarve region's civil governor Isilda Gomes said.

"A number of adults on the beach, including the children's parents, rushed into the sea to help," Gomes told the AP by telephone.

Two British women, a British man and a German man, all aged between 40 and 50, were trapped by the current and strong waves and drowned in the rescue attempt, she said. Another British man was hurt and remained in hospital Tuesday.

The British embassy in Lisbon confirmed three British tourists had died and that three others required medical treatment but declined to provide further details.

A British couple among the dead were the parents of two of the children in the sea, Gomes said. The dead German man was the father of the German girl.

Gomes said other children on the beach witnessed the incident.

Six children whose parents had died or were injured were receiving psychological counseling, Gomes said.

The British and German families were all staying at the same nearby hotel.

Recent hot weather has drawn many people to Portugal's beaches, but autumn tides are notoriously dangerous.

Officials said the beach, whose strong waves make it popular with surfers, had signs in Portuguese and English warning the public it was unguarded.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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