Three killed as boat capsizes

Three teenage girls met a watery grave after a boat carrying nearly 3540 junior college students capsized off the Dahanu coast in Palghar district, nearly 140 km off downtown Mumbai, on Saturday.

The incident took place around 11 am when the students of KL Ponda High School and Junior College - aged between 16 and 19, mostly from Class XI and XII - hired a boat for a joyride after the school hours.

The three girls identified as Sonal Bhagwan Surati, Janhavi Suresh Surati and Sanskriti Mayavansi, all aged 17, were residents of Masaili Ambedkar Nagar at Dahanu.

The incident has posed several questions - whether the college/school administration was aware that the students had gone for the picnic, whether the boat-owner of the double-decker vessel named Dahanu King had necessary permissions and why life-jackets were not given which was mandatory.

In fact, the owners have refurbished the boat and since last week started joy ferries.

The boat tilted and turned turtle when the students came to one side and were taking a selfie.

"It is a shocking incident, we are taking all steps to ensure that such things don't happen again," Tribal Development Minister Vishnu Savara, who is the Guardian Minister of Palghar, said.

Palghar's Superintendent of Police Manjunath Singe said, "So far, three bodies have been recovered, 31 students have been rescued, the boatman has also been rescued,"

The boat owner is being booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

The boat is owned by Parth Ambire and Mahendra Ambire and Mahesh Ambire was the boatman.

Since it was low tide and the boat was nearly one nautical mile from the coast, rescuers could reach fast and the students could be saved.

On receiving the information, Coast Guard Station at Dahanu immediately initiated search and rescue efforts whilst coordinating with local authorities including Palghar collectorate and police.

Local fishermen too did a great job but sailing out in small boats in large numbers.

A Coast Guard boat based at Dahanu and a Coast Guard helicopter from Daman was launched immediately for rescue.

"A total of 32 precious lives were saved in the incident and are being provided medical attention by the local authorities. However, there have been three casualties in the incident, all of them being students who had boarded the fateful boat," a Coast Guard spokesperson said.

Search efforts are still continuing at the location in coordination with local authorities to search for missing students if any.

"We were taking a selfie when the boat tilted and turned turtle," said a survivor. "We have been told by a student that the incident occurred when they were taking a selfie," said Chandrakant Kutale, a local teacher.

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