x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

RAK drowning could have been avoided, says family

The family of an Indian man who died after swimming off the beach in Ras Al Khaimah says there were no warnings of rough seas.

RAS AL KHAIMAH // The brother of an Indian student who drowned last week off RAK beach said yesterday there were no warning signs or red flags to indicate rough weather.

Jaspinder Singh, whose brother, Jaspreet, 26, died after strong currents swept him away last Wednesday, said his family had clung to the hope that he might be alive until the body was found 24 hours later.

Strong winds and currents have endangered many swimmers along the coastline in recent days.

"If there had been any kind of warning on the beach, we would have changed our minds for sure," said Jaspinder, 21, a student at the Royal College in Ras al Khaimah.

"Our unawareness of the weather conditions led to the tragedy. When we went swimming, the sea was calm. However, after about 20 minutes, the tides started getting high and currents became strong," he said. "I couldn't save him and after many exhausting attempts, I had to give up and swim back to the shore, since I had also started drowning."

Jaspreet, who was an engineering student in the Indian city of Pune, was on a week's holiday and was due to leave just two days later.

The brothers and their mother had gone to the beach behind Ittihad University on Wednesday evening. While the mother stayed back, the two brothers went for a dip. "I shouted to my mother for help, who in turn alerted some beachgoers and authorities. [But] by the time the lifeguards rushed to the spot, he was gone. I wish I could have done more to save him."

A search team was dispatched immediately. Search operations continued until dusk and resumed the next morning. The body was found the next day at the beach stretch near Al Waha Centre.

"We stayed at the beach until midnight, hoping we could spot him. We were fervently wishing he had managed to get to the shore to safety. We were unable to sleep the entire night and returned early morning to the same place," Jaspinder said.

Ras al Khaimah police officials confirmed that search operations had been dispatched to rescue Jaspreet after a woman alerted them.

"We sent our team and they found the body 24 hours later," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Jaspinder said his family was still in shock, and his parents were inconsolable. The family left early this morning for India to cremate Jaspreet's body.

A family acquaintance said the man's father, who runs a construction business in RAK, had been shattered by the son's death. "The father said he had been forced to perform his son's final rites, when it should be the other way around," said the acquaintance, who did not wish to be identified.

pkannan@thenational.ae