5 City cadets drown in Periyar river near Kochi

5 City cadets drown in Periyar river near Kochi

5 City cadets drown in Periyar river near Kochi

Tragedy struck an eight-day national NCC trekking camp being held at Malayatoor forest near Kochi on Wednesday with five cadets from Delhi drowning in the Periyar river.

Police identified the dead as Gulver Ahamed, 18, from the Old Govindapuram area of the national capital; Dilshan Allam, 18, from Sakeer Nagar; Hemantha Kumar, 16, from Tughlaqbad Extension; Muhammed Sihan, 18, from  Okhla;  and Tabish Bakari, 18, from Motti Manal in Uttar Pradesh.    

Allam, Bakari and Sihan were students of Jamiya Millia Polytechnic College, Ahamed was from Bhagat Singh College and Kumar was a student of BBS School, police said.

Commodore Jaison Thomas, who is the NCC Ernakulam Group Commander, told Deccan Herald that the bodies were removed to the mortuary at  Ernakulam General Hospital where post mortem was conducted in the evening.

The bodies will be flown to Delhi by an Indian Air Force aircraft from Kochi Naval airport on Thursday morning after Chief Minister Oommen Chandy pays homage to the deceased, Thomas said.

According to him, tragedy struck around 12 noon. All 63 cadets from the Delhi NCC directorate, after trekking in the Mahogany plantation of the Forest Department, settled down for lunch at Moolamkuzhi, a picnic spot on the Periyar. Post-lunch, the cadets moved to the river despite a stern warning by the instructors and three Kerala cadets accompanying them and the local people.

After about half an hour, all cadets but the five returned. The five cadets went to the middle of the river walking over the slippery boulders, taking photographs. Two of them slipped into the river and to save them, the other three jumped into the river.
The local people at the site immediately pulled out two and rushed them, still breathing, to a nearby private hospital, about 10 minutes drive from the spot. But the doctors declared them brought dead. The other three were retrieved dead.    

Thomas said that 750 cadets from 16 states were attending the camp which began on December 23 and being held for the fourth consecutive year in the same area without any accidents thus far. Wednesday’s trek was the third one held this time. “Stern warning was given to the cadets against going to the river during the briefing on the route. Moreover, the Kerala cadets familiar with the hilly terrain, two instructors from Delhi and three military nurses accompanied them,” said Thomas. Despite being cautioned, the cadets went to the river where it is very deep and the undercurrent is very strong, he added.

Ernakulam district collector Sharik Pareeth said that the families were informed about the tragedy. An inquiry has been ordered by the Defence Department, said Thomas.