Ejaz Jalal Ahmed’s family had to watch helplessly as the current sucked the 16-year-old into the creek from the beach, which is infamous for drownings, around 5.30 pm on Sunday; his body was found at 2.30 pm yesterday
An outing to Marve beach turned into a prolonged nightmare for the family of Ejaz Jalal Ahmed, who had to stand by helplessly and watch the 16-year-old get sucked in and drown in the creek on Sunday evening, and then spend nearly 21 anxious hours waiting for a team of 20 fire and flood-and-rescue officials and Navy divers to fish out the teenager’s body.
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While activists blame the authorities for not stationing lifeguards at the beach despite numerous cases of drowning being reported there, fire officials said people ignore warnings and go very close to the water at the beach, which is extremely dangerous because of the strong currents and the sinking sand.
Young life snuffed out: The team comes back to the beach with the 16-year-old’s body as his bereaved relatives (below) look on. Pics/nimesh Dave
The incident took place on Sunday evening, when Ahmed’s family, from Pathanwadi, Malad East, had gone to Marve beach for an outing. The teenager and his brother were trying to fish at the beach and stepped into the water, without paying heed to the shifting sand.
“He took two steps inside the water and as soon as he lifted his foot to take the third one, the current pulled him in. Several boats, which ferry people between Marve and Manori, were passing by, and their movement intensified the swiftness of the current. He disappeared within moments right in front of our eyes,” said Ahmed’s father, Jalalluddin.
The family members said that the current was too strong for anybody except a trained swimmer to be able to swim against and come ashore. They immediately contacted their relatives, who informed the fire brigade, hoping to save the boy in time, but their efforts proved futile.
Abraham Pinto, a local social worker who has been helping the police and fire brigade officials in drowning cases and was involved in Ahmed’s case as well, said fire officials came late and unprepared.
“While the boy was sucked in around 5.30 pm, the fire brigade reached the spot only two hours later. They didn’t have torches or enough manpower and we helped them with both. The flood-and-rescue team arrived only on Monday morning. We have written to the BMC time and again to station lifeguards at Marve beach, but even after a former municipal commissioner assured us, no lifeguards have been posted,” said Pinto.
Fire brigade officials, on the other hand, said that they did everything they could to find the boy. Officials confirmed that two teams of fire officials from the Malad and Borivli fire stations rushed to the spot, along with one team from the flood-and-rescue department, which is also a part of the fire brigade. The fire brigade teams and two Navy divers looked for the boy throughout the night and were joined by the flood-and-rescue team in the morning.
Twenty men in all looked for the boy’s body yesterday. A senior fire official said change in current, high tide and rains delayed the rescue operation.
“In cases of drowning at such dangerous beaches, it takes a minimum of 24 hours to find and fish out a body. We got help from the Navy, which sent two divers to find the boy but visibility in the Marve creek was low. Even on Monday, the rains continued to hamper the operation but we finally recovered the body around 2.30 pm,” said Ravindra Ambulgekar, Assistant Divisional Fire Officer, Borivli fire station.
He added that local residents and visitors to the beach have been told time and again not to venture into the water as doing so can be very dangerous, but to no avail.
Ahmed’s body was then handed over to the Malwani police, who took him to Shatabdi Hospital in Kandivli, where the boy was pronounced dead on arrival. He was then taken to Bhagwati Post-Mortem Centre for an autopsy. The doctors confirmed that the boy died due to drowning.