Dahanu tragedy: Boat carrying 40 students capsizes at Parnaka beach, three die, five missing
Three students of Dahanu's KL Ponda College drown, five still missing as tourist boat around beach capsizes
The search team officials. Pics/Hanif Patel
Three youngsters drowned, while four or five are said to be still missing after a private boat, carrying around 40 students, capsized on Saturday morning at Parnaka beach in Dahanu, Palghar district. Around 32 students were rescued and the search for the missing students was on by the Coast Guard and local fishermen at the time of going to press. The bodies of three students were recovered and identified as cousins Sonali Bhagwan Surati and Janhavi Harish Surati, and Sanskriti Mayavanshi, all aged 17. They were residents of Masauli Ambedkarnagar in Dahanu, said the Superintendent of Police (Palghar) Manjunath Singe.
The search helicopter
According to local fishermen, the boat was overloaded and hence capsized. The police said the students had taken the trip on their own and they are still unclear about how many were on the boat as the survivors had no idea either. According to police sources, the tragic incident took place two nautical miles from the shore. The students of KL Ponda College in Dahanu were on a picnic at Parnaka beach and had taken the boat ride. The single deck boat had been introduced at Parnaka beach just five days ago. It used to take tourists for a ride in the sea up to 2-3 nautical miles from the shore. "The boat owners charged '50 per person, but always took more people on board than its capacity," said a local resident.
The distraught families
On Saturday, around 11.30 am, the students had reached the beach and boarded the boat after some time. "They were all thrilled when the boat went into the water and climbed up on to the deck and began taking pictures and selfies," said a police officer, investigating the case. "As many students had climbed on to the deck, the boat tilted to one side and capsized," the officer said. Nine students who knew how to swim tried to save the others, but when they realised their efforts would not be enough, they swam to the shore and called the fishermen for help," the officer said.
A survivor in hospital
"We immediately took out a trawler and rushed to help them. At the spot, we saw the children drowning and screaming for help. We managed to rescue 11 children and send them to the nearby cottage hospital for immediate medical aid," said Iren Tandel 29, one of the rescuers. Around 20-25 villagers from Agar Machiwada had rushed to help the drowning students.
One of the survivors speaking to the cops
The Coast Guard was also informed and they deployed their ships and helicopters for the rescue operation. Personnel from the coastal police and fishermen together managed to rescue 32 students. The Palghar police have booked ferry boat owner, Mahendra Ambhire, and the boat navigator, Parth Ambhire, under IPC section 304 A (causing death by negligence) 280 (rash navigation of vessel), 282 (conveying person by water for hire in unsafe or overloaded vessel) and 34 (common intention). They have also detained the crew members.
Cousins Sonali and Janhavi Surati