4 Indian medical students drown in Russia's St Petersburg

4 Indian medical students drown in Russias St Petersburg

The four students from Maharashtra - Harshal Anantrao Desale, Jishan Ashpak Pinjari, Jia Firoj Pinjari and Malik Gulamgous Mohammad Yakub, were studying at the Novgorod State University in Veliky Novgorod city. A fifth student, Nisha Bhupesh Sonawane, was rescued

Moscow: Four Indian medical students drowned when they entered a fast-flowing river near St Petersburg in Russia, authorities said on Friday, in the worst tragedy to hit the Indian student community in the country. The Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi termed it an unfortunate incident. "Four Indian students who were studying at the Yaroslav-the-Wise Novgorod State University located in Veliky Novgorod, Russia, drowned in an unfortunate incident in the Volkhov river. In the incident, a fifth Indian student was saved from drowning and is presently receiving medical attention," it said.

Local emergency services have so far recovered two bodies from the Volkhov River. The search for the remaining two missing students continues. Jishan and Jia were siblings. Local media reports said that the students drowned as they tried to save one of their female friends. They all were aged 18-20. Jishan and Jia hailed from Amalner in the Jalgaon district of Maharashtra. Harshal Desale belonged to Bhadgaon, also in the Jalgaon district. Jalgaon district collector Ayush Prasad said arrangements are being made to bring the bodies to India. "We are working to send the bodies to the relatives as soon as possible. Proper treatment is also being provided to the student whose life has been saved," the Embassy of India in Moscow said on X.

The Consulate General of India in St Petersburg said these students were pursuing medical education at Veliky Novgorod State University. "Sincere condolences to the bereaved families," it posted on X. The Consulate General said it was working together with the local authorities of Veliky Novgorod to send the mortal remains to the relatives as soon as possible. "The bereaved families have been contacted and assured of all the possible help," it said.

A family member told local media: "When they entered the Volkhov River, Jishan made a video call to his family. His father and other family members were pleading with Jishan and others to come out of the river waters when a strong wave swept them away.”

In a message to the Indian envoy to Russia, the administration of Yaroslav-the-Wise Novgorod State University has expressed condolences over the tragedy. “The students were taking a walk near the city's beach along the Volkhov River, in the evening, during their study-free time. The tragedy was accidental and unexpected. Nisha Bhupesh Sonawane survived. Now she is under the care of medical staff,” a university official said. The university's representatives are monitoring her state closely and doing everything possible to help her, he added.

“The university informed the parents immediately and is currently working closely with all respective agencies in the Russian Federation,” he said. The university has requested the Indian envoy for assistance in repatriation of the students' bodies to India, he added.

In June last year, two final-year MBBS students from Kerala drowned in a lake in Russia. They were studying at Smolensk State Medical University. Indian students study medicine across Russia. There are around 25,000 Indian nationals of which a majority are Indian students studying medicine, the Indian embassy said, quoting the latest data. There are also Indian students studying engineering, economics, sciences and other subjects in other universities.

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