Caller sends fire brigade officials, cops into tizzy by claiming to have spotted 'drowning person'; joint team spends 4 futile hours looking for 'body' even as bystanders generate various rumours

Fire brigade officials and the police were left fuming yesterday after they spent four hours searching for a non-existent 'drowning man' below SM Joshi Bridge following a frantic call from one  Vishal Satish Bhelke to the fire control received a call around 3 pm, claiming that he had seen 'somebody drowning' at the spot.

Curious: Onlookers watch firefighters searching for a drowning person
the SM Joshi bridge. Pic/Priyankka Deshpande

After fire engines from Kasba and Erandwane Fire Brigade Stations reached the spot, they saw was a curious crowd gathering at the bridge and screaming out their own visual interpretations of the supposed 'drowning' person.

Station Duty Fire Officer from Erandwane Fire Brigade Rajesh Jagtap said, "There were also rumours of a dead body of a seven-year-old child floating in the water. Some even said it was a drowning animal, while others claimed the thing to be an alligator that had come over from the Khadakwasla dam. We finally called off the search and returned to our stations around 7.15 pm."

A confused Bhelke said that he wasn't sure of what he saw but claimed to have spotting  "something" that come up to the surface gasping for air and then submerged. Asked what he does for a living, he claimed he was a 'consultant'.

A senior police official, however, suspects this to be political gimmick to divert authorities' attention a day prior to polls. "Party workers want to carry out money distribution and other activities and this might be a diversionary tactic to keep officials engaged," he said.