Picnic Turns Tragic In Pune, 3 Of Family Drown In Waterfall, 2 Children Missing

A family outing turned tragic when a woman and two girls drowned at a waterfall close to Bhushi Dam in Pune’s Lonavala area on Sunday. Two children in the 4-9 age group remain missing.

A video shows a group of people, including those who lost their lives, being swept away by gushing water caused by intense rainfall in the region.

According to the police, 16-17 members of a family from Sayyad Nagar in Pune’s Hadapsar area had hired a private bus to visit the scenic spot near Lonavala for a picnic on the rain-soaked day.

Inspector Suhas Jagtap of Lonavala police station said about 10 people were swept away around 12.30 pm due to sudden flooding. While some of them managed to escape, one girl was rescued by other revellers.

Police identified them as Shahista Liaqat Ansari (36), Amima Adil Ansari (13), and Umera Adil Ansari (8). A search team recovered their bodies from the reservoir downstream. Adnan Sabhahat Ansari (4) and Mariya Aqil Ansari (9) are still missing, the official said.

“Volunteers from Vanyajeev Rakshak Maval, the Shivdurg rescue team, and divers from the Navy conducted search operations until late evening to locate the missing children. The search will resume on Monday,” another police official said.

Members of the Ansari family went to see the waterfall close to the Bhushi dam but were taken unawares when the water flow rose due to intense rain in the area and were swept away, he said.

A relative said some of their relatives had travelled from Mumbai for a wedding a couple of days ago. On Sunday, more than 15 members hired a bus to go to Lonavala for a picnic, he said.

As the monsoon season begins, thousands of visitors are flocking to the Bhushi and Pavana dam regions, often disregarding warnings from the police and local authorities to avoid unknown areas.

A police officer estimated that over 50,000 people visited Lonavala on Sunday. “It’s a tragic incident. Despite numerous warnings, people continue to venture into hazardous areas in the hilly terrain upstream of Bhushi Dam. Today, many revellers were under the waterfalls in the Bhushi Dam region, ignoring the warnings,” he said.

He added that as the monsoon season progresses, the number of visitors is expected to swell.

Pune Rural Police Superintendent Pankaj Deshmukh urged the public not to risk their lives by exploring unfamiliar areas in Lonavala, Khandala, and the Pavana Dam region.

“The area where the incident occurred, as well as the surroundings of Bhushi Dam, fall under the jurisdiction of the Indian Railways and the Forest Department. We will convene a meeting with all stakeholders to develop measures to prevent such incidents,” Deshmukh said.

Meanwhile, the serene surroundings of the Pavana Dam in Lonavala have also been marred by a series of tragic drownings, prompting urgent calls for enhanced safety measures in the region Local authorities, including the police and the irrigation department, have expressed concerns over tourists ignoring warning signs and venturing into dangerous waters.

According to the Lonavala Rural Police, four persons have drowned in the Pavana Dam since January 2024. The rescue organisation Vanyajeev Rakshak Maval reported recovering 27 bodies from various water bodies in Maval tehsil between March and May this year.

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