In a tragic incident, 14 college students on Monday drowned in the Arabian Sea at Murud Janjira in Maharashtra's Raigad district, around 150 kms south of Mumbai, according to media reports.
According to reports 13 bodies have been recovered till now. The toll is expected to rise as 10-12 students are still missing.
The students were part of a group of more than 130 from Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education Society's Abeda Inamdar College in Pune and had gone to the picturesque Murud beach for a picnic, Superintendent of Police Suvez Haque said.
Locals helping transport a survivor to the hospital at Murud near Alibag on Monday PIC/SUDHIR NAZRE
The tragedy is believed to have taken place at around 4.30 pm on Monday afternoon. Around 126 students from Inamdar College came in three buses to the beach and some of them went for a swim.
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.
Four girls were successfully rescued while another six have been rushed to nearby hospitals. The cause of the massive tragedy is still not clear.
Inamdar said that the 130 senior students, studying in first, second and third year B.Sc. (Computer Science) and BCA (Computer Applications), had gone on a college-sponsored annual picnic accompanied by at least 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.
According to available information, the number of casualties may go up as some more students were reporting missing in the waters.
The Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard deployed a Chetak helicopter and a speed boat besides police divers for the combined mega rescue operations.
Based on informal report of children (numbers not confirmed) being adrift at Murud, the Indian Coast Guard has launched a search operation with one interceptor craft CG 117, one Chetak Helicopter have been deployed and ICGS Achook has been diverted. One IN Chetak and one CG Chetak has been launched from INS Shikra Heliport. One SeaKing vessel has also bee included inthe search operations.
Two hired fishing boats have also been deployed for search and rescue ops.
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.
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.
Names of the deceased in the Murud tragedy: