MUMBAI: Three girls drowned and five were missing after a private boat with about 40 students, who were on a school picnic, capsized two nautical miles into the Arabian Sea off the coast of Dahanu in Palghar district on Saturday. The rescue operation was started immediately with the help of local fisherman and 32 students were rescued.
About 40 students of Std XI and Std XII of the Babubhai Junior College, decided to take a joy ride in the Arabian Sea as the prelims of Std XII and the second unit of Std XI were to start from Monday and Thursday.
These students came to the seashore after attending their college at 9.30 am and asked ferry boat pilot Parth Ambhire to ferry the boat for them in the sea. The boat had a seating capacity of 30 and Ambhire refused to take all of them.
As the boat ventured into the sea with 30 students and covered some distance, some girls insisted on turning back as they wanted their friends on board. Ambhire agreed to their request and turned back the boat to the coast and later, 33 students boarded the boat, said Ambhire.
A few of the girls then climbed on the roof of the boat to take selfies, despite warnings from Ambhire to get down. “They were so excited that they didn’t listen to me. As all the students gathered at one side of the boat, the boat’s balance was disturbed and it capsized,” he said.
According to Dr Prashant Narnaware, District Collector, Palghar, there were 33 students, out of which 21 were injured and were administered first aid in Cottage Hospital, Dahanu, while 9 swam to safety and 3 girls met a watery grave. The funeral took place on Saturday evening, where the entire Dahanu town assembled to mourn the students’ death.
The bodies of the three girls -- Sonal Bhagwan Surati, Janhavi Harish Surati and Sanskruti Mayavanshi -- all aged 17, were recovered, Superintendent of Police, Palghar, Manjunath Singe said.
The coast guard has called off the rescue operation on Saturday evening. The Coast Guard was pressed into a chopper from Dahanu for the search operations immediately after they received the call.
The boatman and the owner have been booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, he said.
Sopan Ingle, Principal, Babubhai Junior College said, ‘Though it may be our moral responsibility, the students had gone for the joy ride on their own and so the college is not responsible for the incident. We are cooperating with the Dahanu police.” (With agency inputs)