Raigad (Maharashtra): At least 14 college students - part of a group of 130 on a picnic - drowned in the Arabian Sea at Murud Beach in Raigad district, around 150 km south of Mumbai, police said here on Monday. The toll is expected to rise as 10-12 students are still missing.
The Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard deployed a Chetak helicopter and a speed boat besides police divers for the combined mega rescue operations.
Among the victims are at least four girl students. Four girls were successfully rescued while another six have been rushed to nearby hospitals. The cause of the massive tragedy is still not clear.
The students were part of a group of more than 130 from Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education Society's Abeda Inamdar College and had come to the picturesque Murud beach for a picnic, Superintendent of Police Suvez Haque said.
The MCES president, P.A. Inamdar, told IANS that the 130 senior students, studying in first, second and third year B.Sc. (Computer Science) and BCA (Computer Applications), had gone on a college-sponsored annual picnic accompanied by at least five staff members and other support staff.
"We are shocked by this tragedy. We are making all efforts to help the students and their families with the help of the local villagers and police. A team of our trustees has already left Pune for Raigad for rendering further assistance," Inamdar said.
He added that the process of ascertaining the identity of the victims and informing their families is underway.
According to available information, the number of casualties may go up as some more students were reporting missing in the waters.
Rescue operations are underway in full swing by locals and the Raigad police with help from nearby police stations and now joined by Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.
Meanwhile, thousands of tourists and locals gathered at the Murud Beach where the bodies of the victims were lined up even as grieving parents and relatives rushed to the college campus or to Murud.