Three students of a junior college in Dahanu, in Maharashtra’s Palghar district, died when a boat carrying more than 30 students capsized off Parnaka beach in Dahanu on Saturday morning. The exact number of children who were in the boat is not known, which made the rescue operations more difficult, Palghar collector Prashant Narnaware said.
By the end of the day, Coast Guard personnel and local boatmen rescued 28 students and two drivers. Twenty-one students were admitted at the sub-district hospital in Dahanu, around 110 km from Mumbai. The deceased were identified as Sonal Bhagwan Surati, Janhawi Harish Surati and Sanskriti Mayavanshi — all 17 years old, the three lived in Masauli, in Ambedkar Nagar of Dahanu, metres from each other’s homes.
The ferry service was launched only a week ago at the Dahanu beach. On Saturday, more than 30 students of KL Ponde Junior College in Dahanu went for a boat ride in the sea around 11.30 am after their classes got over. Around two nautical miles from the beach, the boat capsized. The Indian Coast Guard pressed its rescue vessels into service and 30 people were rescued. Three teen girls died in the incident, according to a statement from the Indian Coast Guard.
“We have arrested the boat owner and one of the drivers who was rescued,” said Manjunath Singe, SP, Palghar. “The other driver is undergoing treatment. An offence has been registered under IPC Sections 304A (causing death by negligence), 280 (rash navigation of vessel) and 282 (conveying person by water for hire in unsafe or overloaded vessel).”
Through the afternoon, four helicopters and five ships were pressed into search and rescue operations, joined in by around 20 local fishermen. M G Tajane, principal of KL Ponde Junior College, said, “A group of students left after classes for an excursion. We don’t know how many went, as most of them did not inform their family.”
Narnaware said, “We asked the college and parents to get a headcount of all students.” He said the police are checking whether the ferry operator had the proper licences. “Ferry rides need to have necessary licences from the Maharashtra Maritime Board. In case there is any illegality, we will initiate criminal action against those involved in the ride,” he said.