NAT Indian mum burial 1-1622463828895
Rafsa Maharoof, her husband Maharoof P, and their children. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: An Indian expat woman, who died after drowning off a UAE beach on Friday, was laid to rest in her hometown in Kerala on Monday, which also happened to be her 31st birthday, a relative said.

Rafsa Koyadeen, a PhD student in BITS Pilani, Dubai campus, and her four-year-old daughter Ayra were pulled out of the sea off Al Bait Metwahid beach in Umm Al Quwain by beachgoers. They had drowned while the family, living in Ajman, was on a regular Friday morning outing on their favourite beach, according to Rafsa’s Dubai-based uncle Dr Sadik Kodakat.

Speaking to Gulf News on Monday, he said Rafsa’s husband Maharoof P, a telecom employee in Sharjah, and the couple’s eight-year-old elder son Aamir were also with them.

“She (Rafsa) was sitting on the shore while her husband and children were playing in the sea. One thing I know is that her husband and son know how to swim. Apparently, when they were in knee-deep water, all three of them suddenly slipped into a depression in the sea,” claimed Dr Sadik, who is an anaesthetist.

He said Maharoof called out for help when he managed to come above the water level once. “Seeing that they were in trouble, some surfers and beachgoers rushed to their rescue. Rafsa also did the same and she drowned.”

Though Maharoof and Aamir could get out sooner, Rafsa and Ayra drowned. They were in a critical condition when they were pulled out of water by beach goers and rushed to Umm Al Quwain Hospital by the National Ambulance crew. “It was too late for Rafsa,” said her grieving uncle.

He said Ayra had inhaled water and her lungs were affected. She was treated in a paediatric ICU following which she has recovered. The father and children flew home with Rafsa’s mortal remains from Sharjah on Sunday night.

She was laid to rest in the cemetery of a mosque in her hometown in Kozhikode. Rafsa had done masters in electronics engineering and was due to complete her PhD this year. “She was a bright student with big academic dreams. It is a big loss for our family,” he said, adding that family members were heart-broken when Rafsa had to be buried on the day she was born 31 years ago.

BITS Pilani sent a message of condolence on Rafsa's demise. "We, the students and members of the staff of the Birla Institute of Technology and Science Pilani, Dubai Campus, deeply mourn the sad and untimely demise of Ms. Rafsa Koyadeen.  Ms. Rafsa Koyadeen. T. was a very promising, bright and pleasing young student. In her, the Institute has lost a sincere and bright member of our family. We pray the Almighty to grant eternal peace to the departed soul and courage, patience and fortitude to the members of the bereaved family to bear the irreparable loss with equanimity," the institute said in a statement.

Call for safety awareness

Dr Sadik said the couple had been living in the UAE for 10 years and it was their favourite beach where they used to go almost every weekend. “They might not have expected such a tragedy at all,” he said, urging utmost caution among beachgoers.

Sajad Nattika, president of the Indian Association Umm Al Quwain, who was among the social workers who supported the family with repatriation procedures, said: “Beachgoers, mainly those coming from other emirates, have to be cautious about the deep areas in the sea.”

Another social worker Ashraf Thamarassery, who assisted the family, said: “She (Rafsa) did any mother would do on seeing her family, especially her kids, in danger. Beachgoers should be extremely careful about any such potential accidents and seek help from people who can swim.”

Advice from police

Speaking to Gulf News earlier, Brigadier Khalifa Salem Al Shamsi, director of the Comprehensive Police Centres Department in Umm Al Quwain, appealed to the public to take precautions while swimming and not to enter the sea in the event of unstable or rough weather conditions or during high tide.

He also urged people to wear a life vest while out swimming in the sea and always stay away from locations with high water currents. He said parents should pay attention to their children and not leave them unattended at any time.