The duo, who are natives of Andhra Pradesh, had come to the city for shopping; they did not know how to swim

Two engineering students drowned in the sea off the Marina on Saturday. The police said Harikumar (18) and Madhukottish (18), natives of Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh, were second-year students in a private engineering college in Kancheepuram. On Saturday, they, along with two friends, went shopping at Express Avenue mall in Royapettah. Later in the evening, they decided to go to Marina Beach.

There, around 3.30 a.m., two of the four students went into the sea while the others sat on the sand. Initially, the duo played near the shore but soon, was tempted by the huge waves. The students ignored warnings by their friends and soon, a huge wave pulled them into the sea. None of the four students knew how to swim.

After desperate search, the other two students alerted the Marina police, who along with fishermen, are currently conducting a search for the bodies of the students. “All these students stay in the hostel. On Saturday, they took a day off from the college. The college management had given them permission only to visit places within Kancheepuram but the students took a train from there and came to the city,” said T. Pandi, inspector (law & order), Marina police. 

The latest figures of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show that Chennai recorded the most number of drowning deaths among cities in the country in 2012. NCRB figures revealed that 272 people died in 252 incidents of drowning in lakes, rivers and beaches in Chennai last year.  Most of the victims, the police said, were youngsters. It has also been revealed that more people are likely to die in each instance of drowning in Chennai than in any other city, sources said.

Sources said the shortage of lifeguards and railings on the beaches have led to the rise in drowning incidents. The police said they continue to warn visitors of the dangers of swimming in the rough seas off Chennai. Lack of first-aid and enough ambulances add to the problem.