New Delhi: Four Indian nationals, including three women, died in a mass drowing incident during a family outing at an unpatrolled beach in Australia’s Victoria, marking the worst tragedy in the state in nearly two decades, Indian High Commission in Canberra said on Thursday.
The incident occurred in Phillip Island, Victoria on Wednesday. The four individuals were identified as Jagjeet Singh Anand, (23), students Suhani Anand and Kirti Bedi, both 20-year-old, and Reema Sondhi, a 43-year-old Indian national who was visiting her family in Australia.
According to news agency PTI, the three younger victims were residents of Clyde. Anand, a Melbourne-based nurse, held permanent residency in Australia, while Bedi and Suhani were on student visas. Sondhi, originally from Punjab, had come to Australia two weeks back for a holiday. The victims were part of a group of approximately 10 people enjoying a day at the beach, the report added.
According to Victoria Police Eastern Region Assistant Commissioner Karen Nyholm, the accident happened near Forrest Caves, close to Cape Woolamai on the Bass Strait side of Phillip Island’s southeastern peninsula.
Off-duty lifeguards who were surfing nearby rushed to their aid, managing to pull three people from the water who were unresponsive. Life Saving Victoria commander Kane Treloar mentioned that lifeguards from Cape Woolamai were alerted around 3.40 pm on Wednesday, and a rescue boat successfully rescued the fourth person. All four individuals required CPR.
However, three of the people died on the spot, while another woman, who was airlifted to The Alfred, succumbed to her injuries in the hospital, as confirmed by the police.
Expressing condolences, the Indian High Commission in Canberra posted a message on the tragic incident, stating, “Heartbreaking tragedy in Australia: 4 Indians lost their lives in a drowning incident at Phillip Island, Victoria. Deepest condolences to the families of the victims. @cgimelbourne team is in touch with friends of the deceased for all necessary assistance @MEAIndia @DrSJaishankar.”
Heart breaking tragedy in Australia: 4 Indians lost their lives in a drowning incident at Phillip Island, Victoria. Deepest condolences to families of the victims. @cgimelbourne team is in touch with friends of the deceased for all necessary assistance.@MEAIndia @DrSJaishankar
— India in Australia (@HCICanberra) January 25, 2024
Life-Saving Victoria operations general manager Liam Krige said that 19 people had drowned in Victoria since December 1.