BHUBANESWAR: The death toll in the Mundali boat mishap rose to two as the body of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) jawan Sitaram Murmu, who went missing in the Mahanadi during an elephant rescue operation on Friday, was recovered from the river at Kakhadi village close to Dhabaleswar on Saturday.
Special Relief Commisoner (SRC) PK Jena who announced the recovery of Sitaram’s body said an inquiry has already been ordered by the Director General of Police (DGP) and the government will review the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to ensure that outsiders including the media are not part of any rescue mission.
Locals who spotted the body floating in the river at Kakhadi near Mahalapada, around 11 km from the barrage where the rescue boat capsized, informed the the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, who then fished it out from the water. Around 12 NDRF and ODRAF teams along with fire services personnel were carrying out the search operation in the swollen river to trace Murmu since Saturday morning.
Murmu, a native of Thakurmunda in Mayurbhanj district, was an experienced diver. His body was handed over to family members after a postmortem at the SCB Medical College and Hospital.
Earlier, the mortal remains of the deceased OTV journalist Arindam Das, drowned in the boat tragedy on Friday, were consigned to flames this morning at his native village Raikala in Keonjhar.
Arindam who was brought out after being carried away in the strong current of the water for kilometres was declared received dead at the SCB MCH on Friday afternoon.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday sanctioned an assistance of Rs 4 lakh from the Odisha Working Journalist Welfare Fund to the family of the deceased senior reporter.
His colleague and OTV camera person Prabhat Sinha, who was in the boat, is still in the ICU. Besides, two other members of the ODRAF, who were a part of the elephant rescue operation, are also in the ICU at SCB MCH. Their health condition has remained stable, informed hospital emergency officer Bhubanananda Maharana.
"We are closely monitoring their health condition. They have been kept under observation for another 24 hours," said a senior medical officer from the hospital. Meanwhile, the stranded sub-adult tusker for whom the rescue mission was carried out in the flooded river has gone missing since late last night.
Forest officials, who continued their search near Jobra to trace the pachyderm last spotted near Dhabaleswar Ghat at around 2.30 am, have put it on hold till Sunday morning.
"It is difficult to ascertain if the elephant is dead till the carcass is recovered," said Chandaka DFO Md Jameel.