Three girls drown as boat with 33 students capsizes off Maharashtra coast
The students from a junior college near Parnaka in Dahanu in Maharashtra’s Palghar district were on a picnic when their boat capsized in the Arabian Sea.india Updated: Jan 13, 2018 22:39 IST
Three girls met a watery grave after their fibre glass boat, with 33 students on board, capsized on Saturday morning off the coast of Dahanu in Palghar district of Maharashtra, police said.
Survivors said a few excited girls climbed on the roof to take selfies with the scenic sea in the background, when the boat tilted towards one side and turned turtle around 11.30am.
Police and eyewitnesses said nine of the students swam to safety, while 21 others were rescued by two local fishermen. Pilot of the boat Mahesh Ganpat Ambire was also rescued.
The ill-fated boat though was registered, it did not have the permission from the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) and the police for ferrying passengers, said superintendent of police (SP), Palghar, Manjunath Singe.
Owner of the boat Dhiraj Ambire, his son, Parth were arrested while the pilot was booked under Section 304 (a) (causing death by negligence), Section 280 (rash navigation of vessel) and 282 (conveying person by water for hire in unsafe or overloaded vessel) of the IPC and they would be produced before the Dahanu court on Sunday.
Singe said the driver, who is undergoing treatment, will be arrested on Sunday.
Bodies of Sonal Bhagwan Surti (17) and Jhanvi Haresh Surti (18) were fished out by members of a religious body, who joined the rescue operation after hearing the screams of the victims. The body of Sanskruti Mayavanshi was found floating by the Coast Guard, who deployed its ships and aircraft in the rescue operation.
The Coast Guard has decided to continue the search operation.
“We are relying on the students’ version who said 33 of them were on board. But as we do not have the exact figure, we are not taking any chance and will continue the search,” said Coast Guard commandant M Vijay Kumar.
A Fast Patrolling Vessel (FPV) and an Interceptor craft from Mumbai, along with Naval divers, will continue the search operations into the night, said the officer.
All the passengers were students of Class 11 and Class12 of the Babubhai Junior College and were on a joy ride ahead of their prelims and second unit tests starting from Monday.
Though the boat had a seating capacity of 30 passengers, Ambre said he was forced by the students to accommodate all 33 in the boat which was recently refurbished. He charged Rs 50 per student for the ride.
The police will also examine the role of the college, if needed, even though it was not an official picnic, said the SP.
Principal of the college Sopan Ingle said the students had gone to the joy ride on their own and the college was not responsible for the same.
“We are cooperating with the Dahanu police and we take moral responsibility for the incident, he said.
President Ram Nath Kovind, who arrived in Mumbai on Saturday on a two-day visit to Maharashtra, offered his condolences to the families of those killed in the tragedy.
“Anguished to hear of boat carrying school children capsizing in Dahanu, Maharashtra. State government has rescued most of the passengers and is making efforts to trace those still missing. My condolences to bereaved families,” he tweeted.
(With PTI inputs)