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Recovery operations resume today for Ramesh Mali, the Special Olym

July 8, 1995

MADISON, Conn. (AP) _ Recovery operations resume today for Ramesh Mali, the Special Olympics soccer player presumed drowned off the Connecticut coast.

Divers called off the search Friday about 8:30 p.m. after authorities gave up hope of finding him alive after more than 20 hours of searching an 18-mile-square area of Long Island Sound.

``We will continue the search, but it has gone from a search and rescue to a recovery mission,″ said state police Sgt. Dale Hourigan.

On Thursday, the 21-year-old mentally retarded man disappeared in the surf in an unguarded section of Hammonasset Beach State Park while swimming with his countrymen from Nepal.

Mali’s mother went to a temple Friday to pray for her son’s safe return, said Ramesh’s brother, Laxman Mali, from Katmandu, the Nepalese capital.

``I am wondering why Ramesh was taken to the beach for swimming. He has never seen the sea before,″ his brother said.

Friday marked the second day volunteers held hands to form human chains and walked a large section of the 2.2-mile beach at low tide to search for Mali. Some were ankle-deep in the water. Others were up to their necks.

``Anything to help,″ said Nancy Cuifalo, a beachgoer who took part.

Twenty-five Navy divers, volunteers from a salvage ship docked in New Haven, arrived at the beach Friday afternoon to relieve 10 weary state and local police divers. The divers, who said the water was very murky, searched until about 8:30 p.m.

As darkness fell, teams of workers combed the beach, using four-wheel drive vehicles and dogs.

Mentally retarded since birth, Mali was on his first trip abroad, his brother said. He was competing on Nepal’s soccer team in the Special Olympics World Games being held in nearby New Haven.

The soccer team competed Friday on a field at Yale University, losing to Ivory Coast 6-0, but still winning the bronze medal. A moment of silence for Mali was held at the start of the game.

Mali had gone on an outing Thursday to Hammonasset with 11 other Nepalese athletes, a volunteer host assigned to the team and three other adults. The volunteer was in the water with three athletes, including Mali, at low tide and in calm surf.

The volunteer took two swimmers out because there was a dropoff and he thought they were getting nervous, authorities said. When he went back, Mali had disappeared.

Officials of the World Games said Mali was supervised properly, but they were discussing whether rules on the supervision of athletes should be changed, said spokesman Arthur Henick.

Olympic officials said they did not know if Mali could swim.

``He is good in soccer ... and also an excellent runner,″ said Saraswati Manandhar, a teacher at the Nav Jyoti Center in Katmandu. The facility is a day-care center for mentally handicapped children run by the sisters of charity of Nazareth, Ky.