With visitors to city beaches venturing deep into the water, ignoring warnings, the number of drowning deaths so far this year has gone up to 13.
On last Sunday, 24-year-old R. Gowtham from West Godavari had come to the ‘City of Destiny’ to attend a wedding ceremony and on Monday his body was sent back to his native village. Attracted by the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal, he along with four of his friends went for a swim and he drowned, taking the drowning death count at the beach to 13 this year, to date.
The beach is the most attractive spot, but the blue water is a death zone, said the former Commissioner of Police B. Shivadhar Reddy. “Despite so many deaths and strong warnings, people still venture out into the sea,” he said. In 2010 there were about 45 deaths, in 2011 it was 52, in 2012 about 42 people drowned and in 2013 the count was 40.
According to Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (ADCP) S. Varada Raju the most vulnerable spot along the beach is the 3-km. stretch from Naval Coast Battery to R.K. Beach. “Some spots at Rushikonda and Yarada are equally dangerous,” he said.
On why the beaches are virtual death zones, former Head of the Department of Oceanography and Meteorology, Andhra University, O.S.R.U. Bhanu Kumar, pointed out that rampant construction encroaching into the bay is the major reason. According to him construction activity and uneven underwater terrain causes rip currents, which is the main cause for the drowning deaths.
According to the oceanographer, rip current is nothing but the sudden formation of water channel or tunnel that works against the natural flow of the waves and has the power to suck anything that comes in its way back into the sea.
“The rip current normally generates during high tide and operates within a radius of 50 feet to 50 yards and the speed or power of suction could range from 5 to 8 km. per hour,” said Prof. Bhanu Kumar.