Authorities have resumed the search for a missing man in water near Coffs Harbour, after two of his friends drowned last night.
Two men, aged 35 and 45, died after a group of six people got into difficulties in the surf at Moonee Beach, 23km north of Coffs Harbour, at about 6pm on Monday.
Two girls, aged 15 and 17, and a 15-year-old boy, were rescued, however, a third man, aged 28, could not be found.
A search operation continued until it was suspended due to fading light and deteriorating surf conditions.
Surf Life Saving boss Steve Pearce told the Triple M Newsroom the incident happened about 300 metres off shore, and is a tragic reminder about water safety.
"It's so important for people to understand their own swimming capabilities," he said.
"It just reinforces the dangers of swimming at unpatrolled locations. This summer, we're expecting hot temperatures and some great days down at the beach.
"But we're imploring everyone to source out those patrolled beach, look out for our lifeguards and lifesavers on duty, look out for those red and yellow flags, and always swim with a friend if you can.
"Importantly over the festive period, drinking and swimming do not mix. If you intend to partake in some festive spirit, please do not enter the water."