BHUBANESWAR: Amidst the tragic loss of two human lives and an operation that went terribly wrong, the elephant that found itself in the centre of chaos and an agonizing 20 hours of standing punishment in the ferocious current of a raging Mahanadi river, is believed to have been dead.
The carcass that washed ashore a sandbar near Jagatpur area of Cuttack on Sunday afternoon pointed at it. The dead elephant first showed up at Jobra anicut before being recovered at Satabati near Jagatpur under the City Forest division.
So far, no confirmation has come in from the Forest department which was examining the details. However, the preliminary inspection pointed that it was an adult tusker and could be the same ill-fate jumbo. A forest team that reached the spot using a Fire Service boat to recover the carcass couldn't bring it to the river bank.
"A carcass was found at a sandbar in the middle of the river in the evening. The exact cause of death of the elephant can be ascertained after postmortem," PCCF (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden Shashi Paul said.
The elephant is believed to have got into trouble trying to ensure safety for a calf of its herd but eventually remained stranded at the barrage for hours. It went through severe stress and couldn’t make any move due to presence of a large crowd on Mundali bridge and on both sides of the river.
At Mundali, the elephant remained trapped in the flood water till late night on Friday due to presence of crowd. Later, locals and forest staff spotted it near Dhabaleswar bridge at around 2.30 am after which the jumbo remained untraced.
The rescue operation to bring the elephant out of the water on Friday went wrong and led to death of OTV senior journalist Arindam Das and Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF)'s experienced scuba diver Sitaram Murmu. Currently, an inquiry is underway into the ODRAF operation while the incident led to a change in the standard operating procedure for rescue operations.