KENDRAPARA: A 56-year-old man became the latest victim of crocodile attacks near Bhitarkanika national park after he was killed by a reptile while taking a bath in Brahmani river near Gagharadia village under Kendrapara block on Thursday.
The deceased was identified as Gangadhar Tarei of Gagharadia. In the last fortnight, estuarine crocodiles have killed three persons including a 10-year-old boy in villages near Bhitarkanika. The latest fatal attack took place at around 6.30 am. Gangadhar was taking a bath in the river when a crocodile exploded out of the knee-deep water and grabbed him with its jaws. Some locals present on the river bank raised an alarm and tried to save him but the reptile dragged him underwater.
After a few hours, villagers with the help of fire services personnel and forest guards retrieved Gangadhar’s half-eaten body from the river. Gangadhar’s son Sunil (30) said as the tube-wells in Gagharadia village were not working, his father had gone to the river to take a bath. “Two tube wells in our village have become defunct in the last four months due to which most of the villagers depend on the river for bathing and other purposes. In the morning, my father had gone to the river to take a bath when he was killed by a crocodile,” he added.
Divisional forest officer (DFO) of Bhitarkanika Sudarshan Gopinath Yadav said the department will provide `6 lakh compensation to the bereaved family after proper inquiry. “The Forest Department has erected barricades at around 80 river ghats around Bhitarkanika in Aul, Rajkanika and Pattamundai blocks to prevent the crocodiles from attacking human beings. Locals have been advised to take bath within the barricades in the rivers. Using loudspeakers, we warn riverside villagers not to venture into water bodies near Bhitarkanika which are home to many saltwater crocodiles,” the DFO added.
On June 21, a 45-year-old woman Sitarani Das of Hatigadi was killed by a crocodile when she was washing utensils in the village pond. Similarly, Ashutosh Acharya (10) of Nimapur village fell victim to a crocodile attack while taking bath in Brahmani river on June 14.