Three more fatalities were yesterday added to the list of those who lost their lives while taking a swim at Aksa beach, raising safety concerns for visitors to the popular beach. On Sunday morning, nine young men from Malad area went to play cricket at the beach and decided to go for a swim. Three of them died while one is admitted at Bhagwati Hospital. The friends and family of the deceased blame the deaths on the lack of rescue services.
Rohit, a friend of the three who died, said, “If the authorities at the beach had used their emergency rescue systems like speed boats, maybe my friends would have been alive today.” He said that the beach authorities have all the necessary facilities but do not use them in the hour of need.
He added, “Also, they do not even have a simple first aid box.” There have been many complaints over lifeguards, beach safety paraphernalia or emergency services not reaching in time for rescue operations at Aksa beach, but authorities are yet to take note of the growing list of the drowning casualties.
Seventeen-year-old Mahesh Dalvi is in shock that his elder brother Darshan Dalvi is no more. Both of them were part of the group. Waiting to take his brother’s body home from the hospital, Mahesh kept asking his uncle Vijay, “Where is my brother? Has this really happened?”
He could not stop blaming himself for not being able to help his brother survive. Darshan was the only earning member in his family. “My son (Darshan) was the strongest pillar of our family. He had completed his B Com exams just yesterday. He had educated himself and his two younger siblings. He worked part-time and helped me run my family,” said his father Rajan Dalvi.
Every Sunday, the boys from Rajan Pada area of Malad gathered to play cricket by the beach. Yesterday, after a long game, the group of nine headed towards the sea for a dip. But while they were coming back to the shore from their swim, four of them Darshan Dalvi (25), Sandesh Mungekar (25), Rakesh Nalavade (22) and Mayuresh Naik (17) got swept away by the high tide.
On hearing the screams of the boys, two men close to the spot ran to help them. But they could manage to rescue only Darshan and Sandesh. The other two had been swept deep into sea by then. The nearby Malvani police was informed and the fire brigade called. Darshan and Sandesh were rushed to the Bhagwati hospital in Borivli. However, only Sandesh survived the journey. Darshan was declared dead on arrival by hospital authorities. Search was on for almost three hours for the other two boys, Rakesh and Mayuresh.
Around 1.45 pm, their bodies were spotted and recovered from the deep waters. They did not survive the sea. Rakesh worked with a BPO and was the only son. His father went in shock after hearing of the incident. Mayuresh had completed his Std XII Board exam and wanted to be an engineer. He lived with his father and did odd jobs to support his family.
The doctor who attended to Sandesh said, “He is stable but under shock because of the incident. He would be soon discharged.” “All these boys are childhood friends. They’d go to play at the beach every Sunday. They usually do not enter the sea. This must have been the first time. We are fortunate that Sandesh is fine,” said Sandesh’s elder brother Nilesh.
About eight lifeguards are supposed to man the beach on a Sunday, and two to three speedboats are present at the location. But the BMC’s rescue team comes in action only after a call reaches them following which an additional force is dispatched to the spot. Deputy chief officer PS Rahandale said, “Aksa beach has always been a danger spot and many warnings have been issued to the public about it. There is a board that cautions people against going swimming in the waters but they ignore it. Our lifeguards were present at the spot and they also helped rescue the boys.”
April 14, 2010: Three boys aged 18, 10 and 14, on a picnic with six others on Aksa beach, drowned while their companions were rescued by the owners of some beach stalls. The lone lifeguard was on a holiday on the day. All nine were from Jogeshwari's Hari Pehelwan chawl. Two of the deceased were brothers
July 23, 2012: An 18-year-old boy was feared drowned off Aksa beach. The Malwani police said that 13 first-year management students of Thakur College ventured into the sea. Three of them got pulled in by the high tide. Nidhish Ratnakar Shetty could not be found, Malwani police said.