Heart-rending scenes were witnessed at the mortuary of King George Hospital (KGH) on Thursday morning when the bodies of students who drowned at sea at Rushikonda, were brought for post-mortem.
The Coast Guard helicopters, boats and deep sea divers who were pressed into service to trace the bodies of six students of Gitam University, retrieved the body of Bhupati Sushil Babu first from the sea. His parents and friends wept inconsolably on seeing the body of Sushil Babu.
His friend Varun said, “It was shocking to know that our close friend is no more. We didn’t have any information of their visit to the beach as we were all attending a festival at the university at that time.”
Another friend Akhil said, “It’s really a great loss to us. Henceforth, we have to attend classes without our dear ones. Every moment that we had spent together will haunt us forever.”
“The Coast Guard and police are constantly announcing through the public address system about the dangers of swimming in the sea. Though there are signboards on the seashore, people are venturing into the sea ignoring our warnings and inviting danger to their lives,” said Tulasi Das, SI of SP Palem.
“We will ensure round-the-clock patrol of the seashore to prevent tourists and youngsters to venture into the sea unmindful of the grave threat to their lives. We will also educate people on the dangers of venturing into the sea when it is rough. Security at the beach will be further strengthened to prevent untoward incidents in future,” the SI added.
There are some local swimmers at the beach who save people risking their lives. These swimmers had also saved the life of Rahul when he drowned at sea along with six other friends at Rushikonda on Wednesday. They also joined the Coast Guard and police in tracing the bodies of Gitam University students. The local swimmers get a meagre sum of Rs 300 or Rs 500 for saving a life.
G Sriram, a local swimmer, said, “It is a daily routine for us. There is one or the other incident happening at the beach and we’ll have to jump into the sea without any protective gear to rescue drowning people.”
Another local swimmer, G Yellaji said Vizag beaches are the most dangerous ones. It is good to enjoy the beach atmosphere. But it is not advisable to venture into the sea as the strength of waves is unpredictable. The local people know the nature of the sea here. It is only the tourists and visitors who venture into the waters unaware of the threat posed by it.
The local swimmers run petty shops on the shore to eke out a living. At the same time they are ready to go to the rescue of drowning people. They want the government to help them by giving full-time jobs or pay them more for saving people’s lives for the risk involved in the job.