At least 13 students of Pune’s Inamdar College on Monday drowned in the sea near Murud beach in Raigad, Maharashtra, according to reports.
ANI reported that over 13 bodies have been recovered till now while IANS reported that the death toll is likely to rise as 10-12 students are still missing.
The tragedy took place at 4.30 pm on Monday. The incident occurred in afternoon when altogether 18 students ventured into the sea to swim.
Coast Guard, police and locals have launched search operations.
The Coast Guard has launched search by an interceptor craft and a Chetak helicopter to help bolster rescue operations, reported PTI.
A Sea King helicopter has also been pressed into service, a senior official said.
“We received information regarding 15 to 18 students being washed into the sea at about 4 pm. Coast Guard aircraft IC117 and two hired fishing boats were deployed for search and rescue. So far, Coast Guard chopper ex-842SGN was launched at 6:03 PM and ICGS ‘Achook’ has been diverted,” a Coast Guard spokesperson said.
So far, of an estimated 20-22 students who had gone into the sea, four girls have been rescued till late afternoon and a search continues for the others, reported IANS.
“A total of 155 students from Pune went to Murud main beach and some of them went swimming around 3.30 pm this afternoon,” said assistant inspector of police Arvind Patil. “Thirteen students are dead due to drowning. The victims were all aged between 19 and 23,” he further said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted about the incident, saying he was “extremely saddened” to know about the incident.
Trustee of the Pune-based college PA Inamdar told mediapersons that the senior students, studying computer science, had gone on a college-sponsored annual picnic accompanied by five staff members and other support staff.
“We are shocked by this tragedy. We are making all efforts to help the students and their families with the help of the local villagers and police. A team of our trustees has already left Pune for Raigad for rendering further assistance,” Inamdar said.
He also alleged that the beach where the students had gone apparently had no life guard. He added that the process of ascertaining the identity of the victims and informing their families is underway.
Meanwhile, thousands of tourists and locals gathered at the Murud Beach where the bodies of the victims were lined up even as grieving parents and relatives rushed to the college campus or to Murud.
A pall of gloom descended over the college following the tragedy.
Over hundred students, accompanied by their teachers, were present at the beach, CNN-IBN further reported.
The tragic incident, however, has several unfortunate precedents. The fact that such incidents continue to be reported raise a question mark on whether adequate precautionary measures are being taken to prevent such fatalities.
Not long ago, in 2014, six persons, all residents of Chembur in Mumbai, died of drowning at Murud-Janjira after they went to the beach after consuming alcohol.
Maharashtra has the dubious distinction of having the highest number of deaths caused by drowning in India. The state saw as many as 4,822 such fatalities in the year 2014, according to statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Deaths due to drowning are among the leading causes of accidental deaths in the country, along with road accidents, fires and building crashes.
With agency inputs