Veteran fishermen with years of experience have urged Qatar’s inhabitants to exercise due caution while visiting the country’s beaches.
Their appeal comes after a 46-year-old Indian expatriate drowned near Khor Al Udeid after falling into a whirlpool last Thursday. The victim was a member of a 15-member group that had gone to the beach, located in the southeast part of the country, to spend their Eid holiday.
Some other members of the group also had a close shave and were saved thanks to the timely intervention of some locals and other people who came to their rescue.
Speaking to Gulf Times, Indian fisherman Thomas Francis said most picnickers who visit the beach have no knowledge of the depth of the sea in that area. “In particular, people tend to forget the risks involved in entering the sea when they visit such places in groups,” he observed.
Francis was honoured by the Indian Community Benevolent Forum in 2008 with the “Best Humanitarian Worker Award” for his services to expatriates.
In a tragedy that struck the Indian expatriate community on July 9, 2004, three male members of a family lost their lives when they lost balance and slipped into the sea near Palm Tree Island. A fourth member of the group, the daughter of one of the victims, was rescued by some visitors, recalled Francis.
“Most people cannot properly read the water levels as the tides are unpredictable,” he said, adding that water levels that may appear low in the morning may rise significantly in the evening.
“However, some visitors think that the water levels along the coast remain more or less the same,” he said. As as result, the chances of people drowning are higher late in the evenings or early in the morning, stressed Francis.
The fisherman said about 15 people have lost their lives in different conditions over the last 4-5 years. Most of them died owing to their unfamiliarity with the water levels, he added.
Thursday’s tragedy in the inland sea area was reported around 2.30am.
Expressing similar views, another fisherman – Sahaya Selvaraj – said there was a greater need to educate beachgoers on the risks involved.
“There should be boards along the coastline warning visitors about the sea conditions.”
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