Odisha: 15 rescued as clay pot raft capsizes in Kuldiha

The locals alleged that despite repeated appeals to the district administration and Tourism department regarding the illegal and unsafe ‘bhela’ rides, nothing was done to put a restriction.
District officials along with fire personnel inspecting the site of the clay pot raft mishap | Express
District officials along with fire personnel inspecting the site of the clay pot raft mishap | Express

BARIPADA: In a miraculous turn of events on New Year’s Day, 15 persons including children and women had a close shave after the clay pot-made raft, (locally called ‘bhela’) they were riding in, capsized in the Kumbha Khetra water body of Baband located on the foothill of Kuldiha sanctuary in Nilagiri.

The incident occurred as the group attempted to navigate the water body using a makeshift clay pot boat without adhering to any safety measures. As the ‘bhela’ broke apart in a few seconds into their journey, panic ensued among those onboard, leading to desperate cries for help.

Nearby locals rushed to the scene and contacted the fire rescue team. While some people with swimming skills managed to help those in need, the fire personnel successfully rescued the remaining persons from the capsized ‘bhela’. All the rescued persons are stable.

However, the incident sheds light on the unauthorised use of clay pot-made bhelas for recreational purposes. It is learnt, the ‘Bhela’ was being run by one Kesu Das, who charged the tourists for the service.

Nilagiri block development officer (BDO) Rahul Mandal, along with inspector-in-charge (IIC) Gopalkrushna Karna, reached the spot to take stock of the situation.

The BDO assured that he would escalate the matter to higher authorities, and seek an investigation into the safety lapses besides the unregulated use of makeshift vessels in the region.

The locals alleged that despite repeated appeals to the district administration and Tourism department regarding the illegal and unsafe ‘bhela’ rides, nothing was done to put a restriction on the use of such boats. Besides they demanded life jackets be made compulsory at the destination. However, no complaint has been filed in the police station.

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