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Touching final act for drowning victims

The four family members who drowned at Forrest Cave Beach on Phillip Island will be farewelled at a joint funeral.
The four people who died in Victoria’s worst drowning in 20 years will be farewelled at a funeral. Picture: Supplied

The family and friends of the four people who died in Victoria’s worst drowning in 20 years have been farewelled at a joint Hindi funeral service.

A road trip to Forrest Caves Beach on Phillip Island ended in tragedy after relatives Kirti Bedi, 20, Reema Sondhi, 42, and siblings Suhani Anand, 20, and Jagjeet Singh Anand, 23 were caught in a deadly rip while swimming.

Melbourne student, Kitri Bedi 20. Picture: Supplied
Melbourne student, Kitri Bedi 20. Picture: Supplied
Melbourne student, Suhani Anand, 20. Picture: Supplied
Melbourne student, Suhani Anand, 20. Picture: Supplied
Reema Sondhi, 42, was visiting Melbourne from India. She leaves behind two children. Picture: Supplied
Reema Sondhi, 42, was visiting Melbourne from India. She leaves behind two children. Picture: Supplied
Aged care nurse Jagjeet Singh, 23. Picture: Supplied
Aged care nurse Jagjeet Singh, 23. Picture: Supplied

On Thursday, hundreds of guests gathered at Bunurong Memorial Park at Dandenong South in Melbourne’s southeast.

Speaking at the service, which was largely conducted in Hindi and Punjabi, a family friend said the deaths would leave a “void” that “cannot be fulfilled,” and extended his condolences to the victims’ families.

“I understand well and truly that deep inside all of us are hurt. We can feel the grief and we pass our sincere condolences to these families who have suffered a loss,” he said, sharing his speech in english.

“Grief is the price for our love towards someone,” he said

He also thanked Victoria Police and the authorities who “stood by the family who have suffered loss in these hard times”.

After the final prayer, loved ones were encouraged to pay their final respects by placing flower petals inside the open caskets.

FUNERAL PHILIP ISLAND VICTIMS
Family and friends attended the Hindi funeral service. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Valeriu Campan .

Prior to the service friends of the family of the victims raised nearly $82,000 in a GoFundMe.

Funds were used to help pay for funeral expenses, and flights to ensure return flights to bring immediate family members from India to Melbourne.

In an update shared by Ms Sondhi’s sister Ankur Chabra also said funeral ashes would be “taken back to their respective places back to India”.

“Thank you all for supporting (sic),” she wrote in a post shared on Tuesday.

“You have all been with me like my Family. I have no words to express. My thanks to you.”

FUNERAL PHILIP ISLAND VICTIMS
The funeral service was held at Bunurong Memorial Park at Dandenong South. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Valeriu Campan .

Forrest Caves Beach, where the drowning happened, is known for being a notoriously difficult swimming spot with dangerous rips and rough surf.

By the time emergency services arrived, Mr Singh, Ms Bedi, and Ms Sondhi had died at the scene.

Ms Anand was flow to Melbourne's Alfred Hospital in a critical condition; however, she died a day later.

FUNERAL PHILIP ISLAND VICTIMS
The four victims were farewelled in a joint service. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Valeriu Campan
Phillip Island Deaths
Forrest Caves Beach on Phillip Island is known for its rips and rough surf. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nicki Connolly

At the time of the tragic incident, Ms Sondhi had travelled from India to Melbourne to visit her brother’s family based in Clyde. She leaves behind two children, who both live in India.

Mr Singh was a registered nurse and was described by the organisers the GoFundMe campaign as possessing a “heart of gold”.

Ms Anand and Ms Sondhi were both nursing students