Palghar picnic tragedy claims 4 teens, 3 from Nashik (Ld)

In a tragic incident, 4 teens, including 3 from Nashik on a picnic, drowned at the Kelwe Beach while trying to rescue a 13-year-old boy who was being swept away in strong currents of a whirlpool during high tide, here on Thursday, police said.

One 17-year-old boy, Abhilekh Devare, who was also sucked in by the swirling waters, but could swim, was pulled ashore with a rope thrown by a local tongawala (cart owner), said an official.

The 3 victims were part of a 39-strong group of junior college students, including 11 girls, accompanied by 5 teachers, who arrived here in a tourist bus for a day’s picnic at the picturesque Kelwe Beach, when the tragedy struck.

The deceased have been identified as Deepak Vadkate, Om Vispute and Krishna Shelar, all aged 17, and residents of Brahma Valley in Nashik, besides the local boy Atharve Nakhre.

According to Palghar Dy SP Nita Padvi, the picnickers were enjoying on the isolated Arabian Sea beach, presently lined with sandbags stacked on a km long stretch to prevent erosion.

At that time, a local village boy Atharva Nakhre, who was playing with his young friends, was trapped in Arabian Sea waters as the levels suddenly rose in the high-tide.

Hearing his screams for help, some of the Nashik boys jumped in the water to rescue him, but they could not battle the currents and were swept off in the Arabian Sea.

Their college-mates and teachers raised cries for help but there were no people around on a weekday, though the tongawala, Rashid Khan managed to reach and save one boy from the waters.

After several hours of search by police and local villagers, the bodies of all the victims were fished out of the waters and after autopsy, shall be handed over to their families, said Patil.

A local resident, R. Mukne claimed that in the past over a decade there have been at least 15 incidents of drownings on the Kelwe Beach which is mostly deserted, and frequented by few from other cities like Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Nashik, etc.

The local village panchayat has erected warning signs and appointed two lifeguards to man the beach, but many visitors prefer to go to the far end of the beach and risk their lives where deadly whirlpools are known to form regularly, he said.

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