Thirteen students of a Pune-based college died when they were swept away by the high tide at a beach in Maharashtra’s Raigad district on Monday.
The victims – in their twenties -- were part of a 119-strong picnic group from the Abeda Inamdar College that went to the Murud Janjira beach, nearly a four-hour drive from Pune. The number of dead may go up since at least one student was unaccounted for when the Coast Guard called off operations at sundown.
Officials and locals said a bunch of students may have ignored warnings and entered the deep sea during high tide in the afternoon.
Soon, those on land realised that some had gone missing and approached local policemen and fishermen for help. At least five of those swept away were rescued.
By late evening, rescuers – deployed on helicopters and interceptor boats -- recovered the bodies of nine women and four men, Inspector General of Police (Konkan) Prashant Burude said.
Locals said the beach has no warning signs and there are no lifeguards posted in the area.
“It is responsibility of the administration to initiate steps to ensure safety of tourists. But, enthusiastic tourists too neglect any suggestion by the locals”, said Sanjay Rahale, a local.
The survivors were scheduled to reach Pune by midnight on Monday, where family members gathered at the college campus.
An official of the college said the institution had issued a circular laying down precautions for picnic trips. “It is unfortunate that tragedy took place despite all the precautions”, said MCES secretary Ayub Shaikh.
Parents of the students, however, said they youngsters had not been warned about the high tide and going into the deep sea.
The students were part of computer science and computer application courses and had left for the picnic in three buses early on Monday.