BANGALORE: Fifty-four hours after Geethalakshmi was washed away in a stormwater drain, her body was found floating in the Madiwala lake, about 3 km from the accident spot.
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Personnel from the National Disaster Response Force, BBMP and the Fire and Emergency Services Department resumed their search on Wednesday morning, after two days of looking in the drain’s slushy waters.
Nine-year-old Geethalakshmi had slipped and fallen into a stormwater drain in Bilekahalli on Bannerghatta Road at 8.15 am on Monday.
Despite an intensive operation by over 200 personnel, her body had remained untraced till Wednesday afternoon.
The search team had initially attempted to use cameras to look for clues, but the rainwater, mixed with sewage from nearby apartments and homes, had turned the waters murky, and visibility was poor.
Soon after the postmortem was conducted at KIMS Hospital, Mayor Shantha Kumari announced compensation of Rs 3 lakh for Geethalakshmi’s family. The money will be handed over to them on Friday.
On Wednesday, NDRF and Fire and Emergency Services officials took over the initiative at 10 am.
A six-member search team entered the drainage channels and began prodding their way through the water.
At 2 pm, the chief commanding officer, Civil Defence, announced that the girl’s body was floating in the lake, about 50 metres from where the officials were searching in the stormwater drain. Fifteen minutes later, her body was fished out.
Geethalakshmi’s body was first taken to Victoria Hospital, but her parents were told the postmortem could not be conducted as no doctors were around, Wednesday being a government holiday. The body was then sent to KIMS Hospital at 3 pm.
Legislative Assembly member Sathish Reddy visited the hospital and announced he would personally give Rs 50,000 to the victim’s family.
Ramesh, Puttenhalli ward corporator, who was on vacation when the incident took place, also arrived and announced a compensation of Rs 50,000.
He said he had given the family Rs 30,000 to cover the expenses of taking the body to their village, and for the funeral.
Geethalakshmi’s parents and grandparents broke down even before the body could be brought out of the water. Her parents, who had clung to the hope that they would see her alive, heard the tragic news first on the walkie-talkie used by the rescue team.
“I brought her to the city and it was I who insisted that she stay another day. If she had left to Tamil Nadu as planned on Monday, this fate would not have befallen us,” cried T K Murthy, Geethalakshmi’s paternal grandfather. He was afraid of trouble in his home state.
“I had decided not to board the 9.30 pm bus to Cuddalore and spoken to my daughter-in-law Kasturi and son Shankar at 8 pm. They had agreed to let her stay on for a day or two. But 15 minutes later, I got a call telling me that Geethalakshmi had fallen into a drain and could not be found,” Murthy said.