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Four Indians lose lives in drowning incident on Phillip Island

"It's been almost 20 years since we've seen a single event that's resulted in such a high loss of life in Victorian waters."

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In a devastating incident on Phillip Island in Victoria, four Indian nationals lost their lives at an unpatrolled beach. The Indian High Commission in Canberra confirmed the tragedy on Thursday 25 Jan, expressing condolences to the victims’ families.

In a social media post on X, the Indian High Commission stated, “Heartbreaking tragedy in Australia: 4 Indians lost their lives in a drowning incident at Phillip Island, Victoria. Deepest condolences to families of the victims. CGI Melbourne team is in touch with friends of the deceased for all necessary assistance.”

The incident occurred on Wednesday when a woman and a man in their 20s, along with a 43-year-old tourist, an Indian national, lost their lives after being pulled from the water off the coast of Phillip Island, located southeast of Melbourne.

A 20-year-old woman, initially rescued and flown to the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne in critical condition, also succumbed to the tragedy on Thursday.

Police believe the Phillip Island victims, all in their 20s, were residents of Clyde in Melbourne’s southeast. The authorities were alerted to the incident near Forrest Caves around 3:30 pm on Wednesday after reports surfaced that four individuals were in distress. The beach, known for its treacherous conditions, is believed to have trapped the swimmers in a rip, approximately 4 kilometers away from two patrolled beaches, Woolamai Beach and Smith’s Beach.

Kane Treloar from Life Saving Victoria (LSV) expressed the rarity of such incidents, saying, “It’s been almost 20 years since we’ve seen a single event that’s resulted in such a high loss of life in Victorian waters.”

Treloar highlighted the ongoing efforts of lifeguards, noting nearly 600 rescues this summer and emphasizing the importance of sticking to patrolled beaches for safety.

“We’re at a range of sites right across the state, so as we come into this long weekend, we have a safe place for everyone to swim,” Treloar stated. He emphasised the critical message that if lifeguards cannot see swimmers, they cannot save them.

This tragedy marks the nineteenth drowning incident in Victorian waters this summer, prompting LSV general manager Liam Krige to stress the preventable nature of such incidents. “Drowning is largely preventable,” he said, urging people to prioritize water safety and seek advice before heading to potentially risky locations.

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan offered her condolences, describing the Phillip Island incident as a “terrible tragedy.” She assured that the government was collaborating with Life Saving Victoria to effectively communicate water-safety messages to the community.

As the investigation continues, authorities are urging the public to heed safety warnings, especially during the summer season, and to choose patrolled beaches to avoid tragic incidents like this one.

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