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Unsuspecting visitors fall victim to ‘rip currents’

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stop there! Youngsters being warned against taking a dip at the RK Beach. Rip currents pose great threat to revellers along the Visakhapatnam coast.
stop there! Youngsters being warned against taking a dip at the RK Beach. Rip currents pose great threat to revellers along the Visakhapatnam coast.

B. Madhu Gopal

Scores of deaths are reported at R.K. Beach every year but it remains a fatal attraction for revellers

Lawson’s Bay the safest beach for swimming: expert

‘Artificial constructions are also changing flow of currents’

VISAKHAPATNAM: R.K. Beach, YMCA Beach, and Rushikonda have all one thing in common that poses a potential threat to revellers, who wish to take a dip or swim in the sea. A study conducted by K.V.S.R. Prasad and P. Sreenivas of the Department of Meteorology and Oceanography of Andhra University has revealed ‘rip currents’ at all these beaches that threaten to snuff out the lives of unsuspecting tourists and visitors.

The first choice of most tourists from landlocked cities and towns of the country is chill out on the beach. Not only tourists but also locals find the sandy beaches and the water an irresistible attraction. Ramakrishna Beach is their first choice in view of its proximity to the city followed by the Palm Beach or YMCA Beach and of course Rushikonda.

Scores of deaths are reported at R.K. Beach every year but it remains a fatal attraction for revellers. “Ramakrishna Beach and the entire stretch up to the Palm Beach are very dangerous for bathing or swimming, and even Rushikonda is not safe,” says Prof K.V.S.R. Prasad, Head of the Department of Meteorology and Oceanography.

Rip currents of high velocity have been observed at R.K. Beach, Palm Beach and Rushikonda.

The water movement in oceans is termed as ‘current’. Rip is the current that flows perpendicular to the shoreline. ‘Long shore currents’ develop and flow parallel to the shoreline. These are not hazardous to swimming due to their low velocities. Two long shore currents flowing towards a region in mutually opposite direction will meet to generate a flow perpendicular to the shore called ‘rip current’. These rip currents flush away sand, silt and even human beings towards the open sea due to the high energy and velocity.

The beaches along Visakhapatnam coast are very steep and the distance from shoreline to breaker zone is five to 15 m. The low distance causes swimmers to drown into rip currents immediately after the breaker zone. This, perhaps, explains the reason for the six deaths at R.K. Beach so far this month.

“The Lawson’s Bay is the safest beach for swimming. Measures should be taken to ensure that it is kept clean to attract swimmers and holidaymakers.

The beach opposite Sagar Nagar is another safe beach that could be developed as a tourist attraction,” feels Prof. Prasad. He said rip currents were observed all round the year and there were seasonal changes. Artificial constructions were also changing the flow of currents.

“We have received funds for the Marine Police Station and the building is also ready. Training and staff shortage is coming in the way of its functioning.

Strategy

We will increase surveillance on the beach,” said Police Commissioner N. Sambasiva Rao expressing dismay at the mounting number of deaths at R.K. Beach.

He said the District Collector was scheduled to convene a meeting with Fisheries Department, Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) and the Police Department to chalk out strategies for ensuring safety on the beaches. Life saving equipment would also be procured.

“We have a Beach Mobile vehicle which moves on the Beach Road and creates awareness among tourists through the public address systems about the hazards of swimming in the sea water. The mobile parties also keep a watch on tourists going into the deep and warn them,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) K.V.V. Gopala Rao.

The Fisheries Department also enlists the services of some fishermen to keep a watch on revellers during the immersion of idols after festivals like Vinayaka Chaviti and Durga Puja. But at other times, revellers seem to be at the mercy of rip currents.

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