The bodies of three of the four youngsters, who are feared to have drowned off the Juhu beach on Thursday, were recovered on Friday. Those involved in the rescue operations are still looking for 17-year-old Faizal Shaikh.
The bodies of Fardeen Saudagar, Sohail Khan, Nazir Metar — all aged 17 and residents of Gilbert Hill in Andheri (West) — have been handed over to their families. The four were part of a group of seven friends who had gone to the beach to celebrate Saudagar’s birthday. Their friends said they were playing sankhli (human chain) in the water when they were swept in by the current.
Senior Inspector of Juhu police, Pandrinath Vhaval, said: “We have not been able to find Faisal Shaikh yet. Rescue operations are still underway… While the body of Metar had washed ashore last night, the divers found the bodies of Saudagar and Khan on Friday morning around the shore.” An accidental death report has been registered in the matter, he added.
Along with a naval diving team and lifeguards, one helicopter each from the Navy and the Coast Guard have been pressed into service to look for the youths. The fire brigade and the police are also assisting in the rescue operations.
Fayaz Khan, a friend of the deceased said the four had been to the beach alone for the first time on Thursday. “Boys from the area who go to the beach are aware when there is a high tide… Since it was Saudagar’s birthday and they had also cleared Class X boards, they decided to go to Juhu beach to celebrate. This was the first time that they went there unaccompanied… They were playing sankhli… I suspect they did not realise they had ventured in too deep before they were pulled in by the tide.”
Aslam Shaikh, a friend of Faizal, said: “My father was his tuition teacher. Yesterday, he came to meet him and asked for help to fill up a college admission form. My father told him to wait for a bit so that he could fill the form. He, however, was in a hurry. My father even told him and to not visit the beach as it may rain soon.”
Lifeguards at the Juhu beach alleged that local residents refuse to pay heed to their warnings while venturing into the sea during high tide.
Chotelal Gupta, a photographer at the beach who doubles up as a lifeguard, said: “At times, people argue with us when we tell them not to go to the sea during high tide. Those coming from other states may still comply, but local residents sometime get aggressive.”
A senior lifeguard at the beach, Manohar Shetty, said that a lot of plastic thrown into the sea that can hinder the chances of a person trying to swim out to safety.
“There are 10 openings on the nearly 4.5-km stretch of the Juhu beach. Usually, people come through these openings and enter the sea. We have been asking for 10 lifeguards to be stationed at these entrances,” said Bunty Rao, another lifeguard.