MUMBAI: A group of 15 youngsters who had gone for a picnic to the Devkundi river in Vasai (east) on Sunday, misjudged the water while trying to cross over to the jungle and were rescued by locals.
The youngsters, including four to five women, had travelled from Vasaigaon to the base of the Devkundi village on motorbikes. The village, which is part of the Poman gram panchayat, has four to five houses on the banks of the river.
Trekkers who visit the Kaman Fort during monsoon, commence their trekking from Devkundi. Due to Covid-19, entry to the village was blocked using boulders.
The youngsters parked their motorbikes near the boulders and began walking towards the river at around 3pm, even as it was raining heavily since 2pm. They entered the river to cross over to the west side which is a dense jungle. The water was then ankle deep. As they continued to walk in the water, the flow of the water increased due to heavy rains. Water from the nearby mountain filled the river.
The youngsters raised an alarm that alerted the locals who came to their rescue. Huge ropes were thrown into the river and the victims were asked to click on it. A rescuer Aadil Ali said “The river is unpredictable. The water from the mountain fills up the river within minutes,”. He said that three to four men were carried away by the strong water current but they too were rescued by the locals.
The rescue operation continued for over two hours as the victims had to stay in the water holding on to the ropes. “The water level was rising, so no one wanted to jump into the river. We asked the men and women to hold on to the ropes. After the rains subsided by around 5 pm, all the 15 youngsters were rescued.
Cell phone network is an issue in the village and there was no way the fire brigade or police could be called. The youngsters were warned and allowed to go. No police complaint was filed. Identities of the youngsters could not be ascertained.
Videos of the incident were captured on cell phones by some of the locals.
The Palghar district administration has banned visit to monsoon getaways till August 9 after five youths drowned in a waterfall in Jawhar taluka on July 2.
In Video:Maharashtra: 15 youngsters trying to cross river in Vasai rescued by locals

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