Mumbai: A college picnic to a coast of the Arabian Sea turned tragic today for a group of students from Pune as 14 of them drowned off the popular Murud-Janjira beach in adjoining Raigad district. The incident occurred when 18 students were swept into the sea when they went for a swim in the afternoon.
The students, aged between 18 and 20, were undergoing BSC and BCA computer courses in Pune’s Inamdar College. One student was still missing and search was on for him.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted that “extremely saddened & shocked to know about the Murud incident where 14 students lost their lives.”
“Instructed the Collector to take care of all students. He informed that 14 bodies recovered, saved lives of 5 girls & are being hospitalised,” he said.
The Chief Minister said the “coast guard has started rescue operation as 1 student is missing. There were 116 students, 8 teachers &3 staff members from Inamdar College, Pune.”
According to a Coast Guard spokesperson, 13 bodies were recovered while a few students are still untraced and the Coast Guard and Navy have launched operations to rescue some missing students.
A defence official said in a statement here that of the 13 bodies, ten were those of male and three of female.
The students were part of a group from Inamdar College in Pune who went to Murud in three buses for a picnic.
“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.
A defence official said in a statement that at least six students were taken to hospital. “As of now, 13 dead bodies (10 girls and 3 boys) have been recovered. 6 students were rescued or managed to reach the shore and were taken to hospital. 1 student is still missing,” he said.
The official said search along the coast is in progress for the missing boy named M Saife Ahmad. The Navy has deployed two interceptor craft for the search operations.
P A Inamdar, Trustee of the Pune-based college, run by Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education Society, alleged that the beach where the students went apparently had no life guard.
A pall of gloom descended over the college following the tragedy. The picnickers were accompanied by around ten staff members including teachers, the college authorities said.
Inamdar said the college has received names of the deceased but their parents would be informed only after confirming and establishing their identities by checking the respective rolls.
A team of college officials has left for Murud to assist rescue work. A defence official said in a statement that information was received by Indian Coast Guard that 15-18 students were swept away into sea at Murud Beach at about 4:00 PM today.
“Coast Guard initiated a search operations and Indian Navy provided assistance in search. Maharashtra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao has also expressed grief over the tragedy.
“I am deeply aggrieved and shocked to know about the drowning of 13 students from a college in Pune who had gone to the Murud beach in Raigad district for a picnic. My heart goes out to the near and dear ones of all students who lost their lives,” the Governor said in a condolence message.