The bodies of three persons, who were washed away in a flash flood, were recovered on Tuesday, around 5 kilometres downstream of where the incident took place near the Anaikkal Mariamman Temple in Anaikatty in the buffer zone of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR).
The four people washed away in Monday night’s flash flood were identified as S. Sushila, 56, M. Vimala, 35, B. Saroja, 65 and R. Vasuki, 45, all from Kadanad near Ooty.
Until Tuesday afternoon, only Sushila’s body was yet to be found by officials and personnel from the police and Forest Departments as well as Fire and Rescue Service personnel.
200 people rescued since December 11 night
P. Arunkumar, Deputy Director of MTR (Buffer Zone), said that following the receipt of the information and with the assistance of the District Collector, teams were immediately rushed to rescue the remaining persons stranded at the temple. Mr. Arunkumar said around 200 people were rescued by teams who worked through the night.
It is believed that the four victims had arrived to attend the temple festival in a car. The four persons, along with others had crossed the stream and were returning to their vehicle following the celebrations, when a flash flood along the Kedarhalla stream suddenly swept through the area.
Teams have been continuing to comb through the area to find Sushila’s body.
Forest department should regulate temple entry: Conservationists
Conservationists stated that this tragic incident has been an accident waiting to happen for many years.
“The forests of MTR, as is any wild area, are full of danger. Every year, attempts to regulate the movement of people into these forest areas, home to elephants, tigers and other wild animals, is always met with resistance from temple authorities,” said a conservationist from The Nilgiris requesting anonymity.
He stated that entry to these temples should be restricted till dusk, with people not being allowed to enter after dark. “The Forest Department can also arrange for vehicles to take people to the temple, so that people don’t walk inside the forests,” he added.