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3 of city family drown in sea

Tamluk, July 21: Three members of a Calcutta family, including an engineering student and a Class IX girl, drowned while bathing in the sea at the Mandarmoni beach resort near Digha today.

Cousins Ankita Pal, 14, and Priyanka Ghosh, 19, and their aunt Shelly Pal, 45, had waded deep into the sea on the flat beach of Mandarmoni, where the Bay of Bengal is usually placid. But the three women from Sodepur, on the northern fringes of Calcutta, were swept away around noon by a sudden rough wave during high tide, police said.

Nandini, 21, sister of first-year engineering student Priyanka, was rescued by the coconut vendors and food-stall owners on the beach, who had been alerted by their cries for help. Nandini was admitted to a local hospital. The three others were declared dead on arrival.

“The women were bathing in a secluded portion of the beach,” the officer said.

The four women were part of a group of 14 holidaymakers. “All 14 belong to the same family. They came this morning from Sodepur, Barasat and Kestopur on a two-day trip,” said Sudip Bandopadhyay, the officer in charge of the local police station at Ramnagar.

“The vendors on the beach had cautioned the women against going too far into the sea because of the high tide (which started at 10.40am) but they did not listen,” he added.

Nandini said she and her three relatives did not realise that the water level was rising. “We were bathing in waist-deep water. Suddenly, the sand beneath our feet started receding. We cried out for help.”

Bandopadhyay said another group of tourists was bathing a short distance away. “They heard the women’s cries but thought they were having fun.”

Ankita’s father Pankaj, who runs a decoration business, said: “All my dreams are shattered.”