Two young Indian men – Anupam Chhabra and Ashu Duggal – drowned on Christmas Day at Squeaky Beach in Wilsons Promontory, Australia.

Both men – 26 years old, and friends since childhood – travelled to Australia as international students in their early 20s to make better lives for themselves. Mr Chhabra worked as a chef in Melbourne, while Mr Duggal had just finished studying accounting. 

They had both looked forward to the group trip, which was their first time at the beach. Mr Duggal’s sister Anu told The Herald Sun her brother took swimming lessons before the trip to ensure he’d be confident in the water.

At about 3.40pm strong currents swept both ment out to sea and they disappeared. The two friends drowned.

Only moments earlier the two friends posed for a happy photo in shallow water.

The last photo of Ashu Duggal and Anupam Chhabra. Moments later the best friends drowned. Source: Aditya Chhabra /SBS

Mr Chhabra‘s body washed ashore hours later. An onlooker tried to resuscitate him by performing CPR but he was dead.

Ashu Duggal’s body was recovered about 4pm on Saturday, after a 24-hour air and sea search.

Surf Life Saving Australia’s website describes Squeaky Beach as one of the area’s “more hazardous beaches, with usually high waves and persistent rips. Use care if bathing here. Stay inshore on the bar and clear of the rips.” The website also warns that the beach is not patrolled by Surf Life Saving Australia.

Mr Duggal’s sister Anu told The Herald Sun her brother loved the water and had taken professional swimming lessons before the group trip, which was the pair’s first time at the beach.

Aditya Chhabra, the brother of Anupam and friend of Mr Duggal, expressed his shock and grief in a Facebook post:

The families of the two men in India’s Punjab region are now arranging to return the bodies to India, a task made more difficult by COVID travel restrictions.

Learn about water safety in Australia

On average three international students drown in Australia each year.

Don’t become a victim. Learn about water safety. Take the Water Safety Course.

It could save your life.

cryptocurrency scam

Cover Photo: Squeaky Beach – Facebook

Source: SBS