Mumbai : In a shocking incident, at least 14 students from Pune – who were on a picnic — were drowned at the picturesque Murud beach in Raigad district, about 160 km south of Mumbai, on Monday. While 13 bodies have been retrieved and identified, one student is still missing and is presumed dead. Six students were saved and are admitted in local hospitals.
The cause of the tragedy, which occurred at around 3 pm, is still not clear. However, the local buzz is that the students were caught in the incoming tide and the strong cross-current. They were possibly caught off guard by the surge of the incoming wave and found the sand shifting under their feet. In panic, some of them tried to hold onto others and dragged each other into the sea.
The deceased students were from the Pune-based Abeda Inamdar Senior College of Arts, Science and Commerce. In all, 130 senior students, studying in the first, second and third year B.Sc. (Computer Science) and BCA (Computer Applications) had arrived in Murud on a college-sponsored picnic-cum-excursion. All were in the 18 to 23 year age group. They were accompanied by 11 teachers and 11 support staff from the college.
Thousands of tourists and locals converged at the Murud beach where the bodies were lined up for identification; meanwhile, wailing parents and stunned relatives rushed to the college campus and to Murud hoping against hope that their wards were not a part of the harrowing experience.
Murud village is renowned for a landmark 15th century monument — the imposing Murud-Janjira Fort – which is one km off the coast in the Arabian Sea and approachable only by boats.
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.
‘‘The Coast Guard received information at about 4 pm that 15 to 18 students had been swept away at Murud beach. It initiated a search operation with the assistance of the Indian Navy. By end of the day 13 bodies (10 girls and 3 boys) had been retrieved. Six students were rescued or managed to reach the shore and taken to hospital. One student is still missing,” Rahul Sinha, PRO of the defence forces in Mumbai, told the FPJ.
The Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard had deployed two helicopters and an interceptor 117 speedboat in the search operations. Besides police divers and local villagers had jumped in. They were further assisted by the Raigad police, the zilla parishad authorities and local fishermen. ICGS Achook was also diverted to help in the operations.
The students from Abeda Inamdar College had arrived in three buses; some of them hit the beach while others went for a swim. The Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education Society’s premier institution is located on the Azam Campus in Camp area of Pune. “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,” an official said.
He added that the process of ascertaining the identity of the victims and informing their families is underway and 10 ambulances had been dispatched for relief works.
Where Was The Lifeguard?
There was, from all accounts, no lifeguard at the beach; the tragedy happened at 3 pm; by the time help was sought from the Coast Guard it was 4 pm.
Where Were The Teachers?
It was a college sponsored picnic-cum-excursion; there were 11 teachers and 11 support staff in the group. The role of the teachers at the time of the tragedy is being ascertained.
What Was The District Administration Doing?
Not the first tragedy of its kind, the district administration ought to clear all college trips in the area. Local fishermen and other volunteers can be deployed on the beach even if no trained bodyguards are around
How It Happend
18 students hit the Murud beach for a swim; they were possibly caught off guard by the incoming tide and found the sand shifting from under their feet. In sheer panic, they desperately tried to hold onto each other, dragging their college mates into the sea.
Students Who Died
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