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Derry community remembers the boys who were "always smiling" after Lough Enagh tragedy

Those who knew the two boys who sadly lost their lives in waters in Co Derry have remembered them as "always smiling".

Joseph Sebastien and Reuven Simon were recovered from the waters of Lough Enagh on Monday after getting into difficulty.

The two boys have been remembered as good-natured and always appreciative of life.

Read more: Lough Enagh victims named as Joseph Sebastien and Reuven Simon

Up until recently, Rev Dr Jospeh Karukayil Varghese would have provided pastoral care to the Syro-Malabar Catholic community in Derry, which the two boys families' would have been part of.

"I have known the boys and their families since my arrival in Derry in 2010. They always displayed impeccable character and integrity and gave of their very best whatever the situation.

"I watched them grow from children into fine young men, full of potential and aspiration for very successful lives in the years to come.

"They were popular boys of their communities and I never met them without being greeted by their huge smiles.

"They were lovely children for their families, always so respectful and always smiling."

"Let me assure their families, friends and indeed, their community that they will all be in my thoughts and prayers throughout the tough days that lie ahead.

"Let God console them, there are no words to express our thoughts, it's really heartbreaking.

"It is not easy ever for a family to lose a member, but particularly so young."

The friends played cricket for their local club in Newbuildings, which described their loss as "devastating".

"The club are absolutely heartbroken at the devastating loss of these two lovely boys Reuven Simon and Joseph Sebastian," a club spokesperson said.

"Two of the most well-mannered and lovely people who it was an absolute pleasure to have in our U15s last season.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and friends, survivors and the wider Kerala community.

"To their young teammates and friends, we are here for you as a club. May they rest in peace."

Finbar Madden, Principal of Derry's St Columb's College where the boys went to school, said the entire school community was "devastated" at the news.

He said: "It is with both shock and sadness that we have learned of the heart-breaking loss of two of our incoming Year 13 pupils.

"No words can express the devastation that we feel as a school community, but first and foremost our thoughts and prayers are with both boys' families, community and friends.

"This will be a very difficult time for the whole St Columb's College family and in the coming days, it will be important that our pupils are with people they know and trust.

"In conjunction with the Education Authority's Critical Incident Response Team, we will provide every possible support for our boys and for our staff.

"In the meantime, if any parent/guardian/carer has any concerns regarding their son, I would ask them to contact us immediately."

The scale of the tragedy began to become apparent on Monday evening, when emergency services rushed to the scene in Strathfoyle.

Specialist teams combed the area in a desperate race against time to try and locate the boys to offer help.

Sadly, one of the boys was found in the water and taken to Altnagelvin Hospital, where he later died.

The second boy was found in the water following further work by divers from the police and Foyle Search and Rescue - he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Social media tributes to the teenagers also followed the announcement of their tragic deaths.

A spokesperson for the Kerala Association in Derry said: "We are extremely heartbroken with the devastating tragedy with the loss of our two youngsters, Reuven Simon and Joseph Sebastian, happened in Enagh Lough yesterday.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all of our families and friends at this difficult time!".

Mayor of Derry Sandra Duffy said she was deeply saddened at the news and there was a huge sense of sadness across the city and district at the news.

"The sad loss of two teenage lives in such circumstances is devastating for all of us. As a mother, my heart goes out to the boys’ parents and to their family and friends at this time, I hope you get the strength and support you need to get you through your huge loss.

“Our rivers and loughs can be so dangerous and this incident highlights more than ever the need for us all to be vigilant at this time of year. My thoughts are also with the boys’ friends who were there last night and who witnessed the tragedy and to their school friends and teachers who should have been welcoming them back to school this week.

“We are united in our grief today and all of us are here to offer our support to the families in the difficult days ahead."

It's understood that the pair were supposed to start their A-Level's this week at St Columb's College after only receiving their GCSE results last week.

"There is devastation and shock right across the Kerala Community. This is a very close-knit community with about 250 families right across the city and they are profoundly sad at this news," said SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan.

"The two boys would've gone through primary school here and they were looking forward to starting their next chapter with their A-Levels.

"These two boys were inseparable from what I have been told, they would always do everything together and they were good, honest young kids.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, friends and the Kerala community at this unbelievably difficult time."

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