CHENNAI: He survived the times spent in sensitive areas and in firing lines while serving the Indian Army. However, 72-year-old retired Lt.Col. G.Venkatesan had a tragic death along with his wife drowning inside his house after nine hours of struggle. Neighbours who heard them cry for help watched helplessly until their voice ceased to be heard. Venkatesan and his wife Geetha drowned inside their ground floor residence, “Geethalaya” in Defence officers colony in Ekkatuthangal, unable to get out of it.
“It was Tuesday night (December 1). Heavy floods from the overflowing river started engulfing the colony and the water level started rising. Our family including three kids moved to the first floor as the water level was just below the first floor balcony,” J Sasikala, the army officer’s neighbour recalled.
She and other neighbours could hear the cries of the elderly couple from their home, but none of them could help as the water was up to 10 feet high and rescue couldn’t reach in time.
The next day, the cries were not heard and later the neighbours learnt that the couple had died inside their locked house. “It seems they couldn’t locate the door keys in the flood waters. I could hear him shouting over phone to his daughter until the mobile services eventually went off,” Sasikala said.
A day later, rescue personnel recovered their bodies and moved them to the Government Royapettah Hospital. “The bodies were handed over to the couple’s daughter and son-in-law after autopsy,” police said.
Nandambakkam Police Inspector Giri said patrol teams visited the residential areas and called out residents to vacate their houses the day it rained heavily. “The couple chose to remain inside,” he added.
From what relatives later learnt from their daughter, Venkatesan got up on the dining table and then stood on a chair on the dining table shouting for help for several hours before the water levels rose to roof level drowning the couple.
The couple’s last rites were held on Sunday.