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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Three Malad youths drown off Aksa beach, lifeguard pulls one to safety


 Three youths drowned off AksabeachonSundaymorning as they ventured deep into the choppy waters during high tide. Officials attributed the tragedy to the youngsters' disregard of the warning signs on the beach, while eyewitnesses ascribed it partly to the presence of just one lifeguard on that section of the shore.
   The three drowning victims—Darshan Dalvi, 23, Rakesh Nalawade, 22, and Mayuresh Naik, 21—were part of a group of nine Malad residents who had travelled to Aksa for a game of cricket. Apart from the three college-goers, 25-year-old Sandesh Mungekar too had swum deep into the sea and got caught in the high tide, but a lifeguard saved him. Mungekar is currently recuperating at Bhagwati Hospital where doctors described his condition as stable.
   The group of nine from Sable chawl in Rajan Pada, Malad (West), reached the beach around 8am. After their cricket game concluded at 9.30am, the youths washed sand off their hands and feet in thesea,undressedandtheneightof them re-entered the water for a swim. One youth guarded the clothes.
   "Sandesh, Darshan, Rakesh and Mayuresh swam in deeper. They were good swimmers. But the water level started rising rapidly. Before we could realize, the four were gasping for breath. We saw them waving as they got sucked in deeper," said Nilesh Mungekar, Sandesh's older brother who too was part of the group. "We raised an alarm and a lifeguard at the beach dove in. Sandesh managed to hang on till the lifeguard reached him. The others were not so lucky."
   A few locals, including a food stall owner, joined the lifeguard in the rescue. "We swam towards the boys and managed to catch hold of two of them. But a huge wave hit us and our grip loosened," said Praful Mhatre, the food stall owner.
   Witnesses called in the fire brigade, which launched a search operation soon after. Darshan's body was pulled out first, followed by Mayuresh's and finally Rakesh's. The operation lasted from 10am to 2pm. The Malwani police have registeredthreeaccidentaldeathrecords.
   Rajnikanth Mhashelkar, a senior lifeguard at Aksa beach, said, "It is a Herculean task to man the beach on weekends since the number of visitors is very high. Children arrive early to play; they step into the water despite our warnings. We cannot do much." He added that their equipment was insufficient. "We have a pair of binoculars, five life jackets and six buoys. Just five to six lifeguards man the three-kilometre stretch of the beach."

WATERY GRAVE

PAST CASES


July 2012


An 18-year-old
collegian, Nidhish Shetty, had gone for a swim at Aksa beach with 12 friends. While most of them stayed close to the shore, Nidhish and two others ventured deeper in. Lifeguards managed to pull out Nidhish's two friends, but he drowned

July 2012


Juhu Galli residents Zuber Shaikh (15) and Sayyad Arbaz Ali (17) went to Juhu beach with friends and were playing in the water when they drowned. An hour later, a 17-year-old, Aniket Gawane, lost his life not far away while also playing with friends in the sea April 2010
A picnic at Aksa
beach took a tragic turn when three children from Jogeshwari, including two brothers, drowned while swimming. On leave on account of a public holiday, no civic lifeguard was present at the spot on the day

March 2010


Borivli resident Rajesh
Pannalal Yadav (20) travelled to Aksa beach for a swim with his friend Rupesh Yadav and four others. While in the water, Rajesh and Rupesh were engulfed by giant waves. Though locals brought the duo out of water, Rajesh died

WEAK PROTECTION


• Six lifeguards—two permanent and four on contract—normally watch over Aksa beach


• At the time of the Sunday incident, the four contracted lifeguards were on leave


• In 2008, the BMC mooted a beach safety model that involved increasing lifeguard numbers around the city and providing them with modern equipment


• The plan is yet to be implemented


AT OWN PERIL


• Fire brigade officials have repeatedly cautioned that no beach in Mumbai, except at Girgaum and Juhu, is safe for swimming


• Swimmers invariably ignore the warning signs erected by the BMC at Aksa beach


• At all city beaches, citizens disregard lifeguards' warnings not to venture into deep water









RESCUE OPERATION: Fire brigade officials took four hours to pull the three drowning victims out of the sea

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