Download the FREE SBS Radio App for a better listening experience
The Indian community in Australia is mourning the death of two men, originally from Hyderabad, India, who drowned after they got into trouble in the water at an unpatrolled beach near Coffs Harbour on Monday evening.
The Indian families from Sydney and Brisbane were spending their holidays at Coffs Harbour and were visiting the scenic Moonee Beach, 23 kilometres north of Coffs Harbour in New South Wales when members of the family got into difficulties in the surf at about 6 pm on Monday evening.
45-year-old Mohammad Ghouseuddin and 35-year-old Syed Rahath, both from Auburn in Sydney were pulled from the surf but were unable to be revived.
Two girls, aged 15 and 17, and a 15-year-old boy were rescued; however, a third man, 28-year-old Mohammad Abdul Junaid, feared drowned, has still not be found.
A search operation is underway by officers from Coffs/Clarence Police District, Marine Area Command, the police air wing, PolAir, and local volunteers from the Surf Lifesaving Association and Marine Rescue.
Members of the Indian Muslim Association of Australia have rushed to Moonee Beach where the rescue operation is underway.
“This is an unfortunate and horrific tragedy for the Indian community,” Mr Syed Siraj Patel, of the Indian Muslim Association of Australia (IMAA) told SBS Hindi.
"It was like a reunion for them. The families from Sydney and Brisbane had come together to spend holidays together. They had rented a place and were visiting the nearby beach when the tragedy occurred.
“We at IMAA would like to send condolences to the deceased family members and friends.
“This is the second tragedy in two months and the Indian community is currently in shock.
“We appeal to the new migrants, students and people who are new to Australia that Australian beaches are the most beautiful in the world but if you don’t follow the beach instructions then it can be dangerous and fatal too.
“Make sure you go to patrolled beaches and swim between flags. If you don’t know swimming or are new to the beach then please let lifeguards and lifesavers know,” he said.
The community has organised prayers for the deceased family on Wednesday evening at the Lakemba Uniting Church.
“Always swim at patrolled beaches”
Coffs Coast Police Inspector Brendan Gorman said the group were a family on holiday.
"This incident is a tragedy," Inspector Gorman said.
"It just reinforces to us to always swim at patrolled beaches.
"Don't overestimate your abilities," he said. "We have a beautiful coastline here, but the ocean is treacherous, and rivers and creeks can change dramatically within hours."
As at 17 December 2018, there have been 17 drowning deaths reported in Australia this summer.
He suspected the three teenagers had gone swimming in the creek and got into trouble, prompting the three adults to try to help them.
"We found one of the girls alive, two of the younger teenagers got in by themselves and self-rescued," he said.
"Unfortunately, we found two men that were deceased and yeah, one is still missing out there."
Surf Life Saving is urging people to only swim at patrolled beaches, with many now patrolled seven days a week over Christmas.
“Swimming programs for migrants”
In a bid to raise awareness as well as equip migrants with the swimming skills required to be safe in the Australian waters, the NSW Government is providing a special swimming program.
Royal Life Saving has been funded to deliver adult 'learn to swim' programs for refugees and migrants across a number of communities mostly in Western Sydney.
10 important tips to stay safe in the water
Here’s how you can keep yourself safe in water at beaches:
- Always swim between the red and yellow flags
- Look and take notice of the signs at the beach
- Ask a lifeguard or lifesaver for safety advice
- Learn how to identify a rip
- Swim with a friend - never swim or surf alone and children should always be supervised by adults.
- If you need help, stay calm and attract attention by raising your arm above your head
- Never enter the water if you have been drinking alcohol or are under the influence of drugs
- Wear sunscreen, seek shade and stay hydrated
- Boat skippers and rock fishers should check the local forecast and always wear a lifejacket
If witnessing an in-water emergency dial Triple Zero (000) – Police