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Man drowns, son rescued at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast

A man has drowned and his 11-year-old son was rescued after they got into trouble swimming at a popular Gold Coast beach while it was unpatrolled.

The alarm was raised about 7pm last night when a beachgoer at Elkhorn Avenue Surfers Paradise and an occupant of a nearby high-rise building noticed two swimmers in trouble.

The boy was rescued by an off-duty lifeguard who was flagged down as he drove past. 

Yong Feng, aged in his 40s from interstate, was pulled from the water by lifeguards but he could not be revived by paramedics.

The boy was taken to hospital in a stable condition before being released later last night.

City of Gold Coast Chief Lifeguard Chris Maynard said they had been swimming in a "high-risk" situation, without lifeguards on duty.

"It's a big strong easterly swell and lots of strong currents and rips about," he said.

He said lifeguards had made 35 rescues at the beach during the afternoon and pulled the flags down about 5:30pm, an hour earlier than usual, but continued to be busy.

"Lifeguards were extremely busy around 6:30 on close, a lot of rescues and getting people out of the water," he said.

"It was just too dangerous."

Boy 'lucky' to be rescued just in time

He said "it could have been a double tragedy" if not for a lifeguard who had just finished patrol being nearby to help the boy.

"[He] was waved down and he quickly got out into the ocean to save the 11-year-old who had separated from his father at the time," Mr Maynard said.

"We are lucky he just got to him in time."

Mr Maynard said the swimmers were in the deep water in a "gutter near the back-break".

He said lifeguards believed a board rider was helping the unconscious father in the water 75 to 100 metres away from the boy.

Dangerous conditions to continue into new year

It was the third beach-related incident in under 90 minutes attended by Gold Coast paramedics on Monday, according to Queensland Ambulance's Senior Operations Supervisor Paul Young.

A one-year-old male survived after being pulled from waters at Broadbeach, about 5:45pm.

A short time later, a 14-year-old boy had to be rescued from the surf.

Both were in a stable condition.

Mr Maynard said dangerous conditions are likely to continue into the new year.

"The forecast with the strong easterly swell, the strong winds, the ocean is moving around so it is going to be quite unstable for the next few days and into the new year," he said.

"If you are heading out to the beach only swim the patrolled areas and get to those flagged areas."

Police will prepare a report for the coroner.

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