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L.Srikumar Pai
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Heading to sea? Watch out for invisible craters, say experts

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MUMBAI: The drowning of three children at Aksa beach on Wednesday has once again highlighted the need to plan trips cautiously and watch the water one steps into. Even as summer vacations have started and families have started thronging sea-side resorts, experts warn of the danger that lurks beneath the tempting waters.

The sea, say experts, cradles big holes that is not visible to the eye. The treacherous sands and powerful waves are enough to drag even swimmers into the depths of the sea.

“People want to soak in the cool waters as the heat is too much to bear, but the sea can often be treacherous,’’ explains Rajnikant Mhashelkar (54), a lifeguard who has spent 35 years in this profession.

“When a person is in the water, the strong waves slowly drag him in the direction of the holes. While the person himself is unaware of this gradual shift, an onlooker can see it. But before anyone can
realise it, the person gets sucked into the deep sea,’’ said Mhashelkar.

According to fishermen and lifeguards, the sea becomes particularly turbulent from April-end, all the way up to mid-May. The turbulence continues up to the day of Ganpati immersion. “Locals who are familiar with the sea usually avoid it. But when people who don’t know the area or don’t know swimming enter the water, they are unable to hold themselves together. Once they get dragged into the sea, strong waves make it almost impossible for them to swim back or maintain their balance,’’ said Dr G K Bhanji, chairman of the National Fishermen’s Association.

In fact, the bigger the group, the greater is the chance of more people being dragged into the sea. “Even if there are swimmers in the group, when one person is drowning and the other swimmer comes to rescue him or her, the person who’s drowning pulls the other one down as well, seeking support,’’ explained Bhanji.

They also added that the government needs to take these beaches seriously. “After a low tide, one can see these craters, the police or the BMC needs to put up boards or bamboo barricades along that stretch to warn of those craters. Those are the areas to look out for,’’ said Damodar Tandel, president of Akhil Maharashtra Machchimar Kriti Committee.

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