Sunday evening turned out to be tragic for a section of beachgoers, as five persons, including three 10th standard students, went missing while swimming in the sea on the RK Beach, while one fisherman drowned on the Yarada Beach.

A group of 18 students from Mangalapalem in Kothavalasa mandal, Vizianagaram district, had come to the RK Beach to chill out after finishing their examinations.

Ten of them ventured into the sea and all of them were caught in rip currents.

The community guards present at the spot rescued seven of them, but three went missing. They were identified as B. Varaprasad, S. Shravan and K. Seshu. The incident happened around 4.30 p.m.

While the community guards were rescuing the students, another batch of about 11 persons from Koraput, a few metres from this spot, were caught in currents. While nine of them were able to get ashore, two were sucked in.

The guards were able to rescue one of them, but the other by name Korra Seetanna (17) went missing.

In another incident, four persons from Bihar, working as labourers in the container terminal, went for a swim and one could not be traced. He was identified as Babbar Khan. All the three incidents happened around the same time and in close proximity to the RK Beach.

According to Three Town Inspector Venkat Rao, there was a high tide and the rip current was also strong.

SHO of Dwaraka Police Station Shanmukha Rao, who rushed to the spot within minutes, estimated that there was a crowd of over one lakh on the RK Beach on Sunday evening, and despite warning from the community guards, people were venturing into the sea.

A search operation was launched immediately and two boats of the Marine Police were pressed into service. The police also deputed fishing boats with swimmers, but the search was called off after dark. It would be resumed tomorrow with choppers from the Navy, said ACP (East) A. Narasimha Murthy.

The police also have made arrangements to install dragon lights at the beach for night patrol.

On the Yarada Beach, a fisherman named K. Dhanaraju (20) was sucked by currents into the sea while he was spreading his fishing net. Others present at the spot rescued him, but he died while being shifted to a hospital.

To control a crowd of over one lakh in a stretch of about 4 km is no mean task for the four community guards.

But the team comprising Demudu, Sreenu, Pola Rao and Krishna, rescued eight of them.

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