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16 foreigners drowned in Goa this year

April 08, 2008 15:11 IST

The death of two Britishers at North Goa's Morjim beach by drowning has exposed the Goa government's tattered beach safety plans.

The government figures reveal till date, this year, 16 foreigners have died due to drowning in Goa, a tourist hotspot where four lakh foreign visitors come to soak in the sun every year.

In 2007, 59 foreigners and in 2006, 55 foreigners had lost their lives in strong sea undercurrent.

"There are no proper signages. People don't know where to swim and where not to. There are no lifeguards and even if, there are few, they are long away," Phillip Webb, North Amptonshire, UK, told PTI.

Webb, who retired as industrial administrator is a regular visitor to Goa and also frequents places like Ooty, Kulu, Manali along with his partner Susan, who is also a retired industrial researcher.

"There are few beach stretches where there is hard rock. The sea level changes within minutes and people gets washed away," Webb said.

On Sunday evening, two Britishers -- Horne Stanley William Thomas, 69 and Lisel Claire Smith, 37 -- both from Dover-Kent, UK, got drowned at Morjim beach, famous for the presence of Russian tourists.

Eye witnesses at this beach revealed to PTI that few foreigners who were swimming near the duo attempted to rescue them, but failed. The foreigners themselves fished out the body after half an hour.

"Lifeguards stand much away from the waters. By the time, he rushes towards his equipments and jumps in water to rescue, the person gets drowned," Krishna Naik, a local shack guy, who was among the crowd, which witnessed the drowning incident, stated.

The Goa government has posted 51 lifeguards along the 105-km-long beach stretch. But this manpower is not enough to guard the vast beach stretch, which is frequented by thousands of tourists.

"There should be a watch tower. Lifeguards should be given better equipment. There should be hoardings guiding the people on how, when and where to swim," Benedict Fernando, another UK national, opined.

The Goa government, however, swears by its ambitious beach safety management plan, which will be in place with the active participation of private players.

"The plan will be in force from next month onwards. The beach safety will envisage beach cleaning, saving people's life from drowning and security," Lyndon Monteiro, officer on special duty, state tourism ministry, stated.

The ministry has also planned to install CCTV cameras at vital points to monitor the activity on the beaches.

"In next one month, everything will be in place," Monteiro clarified.

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