Pune: The body of a student, who drowned along with 13 of his colleagues out on a picnic, was on Tuesday recovered from the Arabian Sea off Murud beach in Raigad district even as initial information suggested that the tragedy struck when 10 students formed a human chain to save four drowning campus mates and ended up meeting a watery grave.
A defence spokesperson said the body was recovered on Tuesday morning. The bodies of 13 students were recovered on Monday itself in searches conducted by the Navy and the Coast Guard.
"We have received information that the body of Madaki Saif Ahmed has been recovered. His parents had rushed to the spot and after the post mortem, the body will be brought back to Pune," said PA Inamdar, president of Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education Society, which runs the Abeda Inamdar Senior College in Pune where the students were studying.
Hundreds of relatives and friends of the deceased, meanwhile, gathered at various burial grounds and crematoriums in Pune for their last rites.
Fourteen students, including 10 girls, aged between 18 and 20, had drowned in the sea at Murud on Monday afternoon.
"As per the primary information received from the spot, some three to four students, who went ahead inside the water, started drowning. As other students saw them, some ten students, formed a human chain and they too ventured into the sea and drowned along with their campus mates," Inamdar said.
He said the college would initiate an inquiry to find out if there was any negligence on the part of the faculty members who accompanied the students on the picnic.
The picnickers were accompanied by around ten staff members, including teachers, college authorities said.
"We have sent our trustees and teachers to meet the families who lost their children in the tragic incident. We are ensuring them complete support in this situation," Inamdar said.
Meanwhile, the college declared a holiday today to pay homage to the deceased students.
Maharashtra has announced Rs two lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased.
Meanwhile, terming the incident as the biggest 'human loss' for the institute, Head of Computer Science department, Shakila Banu Mulla, said despite issuing necessary instructions to students before they ventured into the beach, they lost them and it is an "unrecoverable" loss for both the institute and parents.
"It was a horrific scene as in few moments, the picnic turned into a tragedy and all happened in front of our eyes," Mulla, who had accompanied the students on the picnic, said.
Mulla, who was seemingly in a shock, reached Pune this morning from Murud and said this is not the first time they took students on educational excursions to a beach site.
"Every time we go for such trips, we issue instructions to our students and always keep an eye on their movements. Yesterday also, instructions were issued to them," said Mulla.
"Suddenly a high tide came and some students got swept away and those who ventured inside the water to save them, started drowning too," she said.
She said on the very moment when faculty members came to know about drowning, they raised an alarm by shouting for help and local people rushed to rescue.
"A small boat was pressed into action by locals, who managed to rescue some students," she recalled.
"We are yet to believe that such a tragedy has taken place in reality. This human loss is really unrecoverable for the institute as well as for parents," she said.