Five members of a family drowned in the Cauvery river near Mettur in Tamil Nadu’s Salem district on Sunday. They were washed away in a flash flood following the release of excess water from the Stanley reservoir of the Mettur dam.
A seven-year-old boy was first washed away by the flood, and four others drowned when they were trying to save him, Salem district fire service officer C Murugesan told the Hindustan Times. One person who was trying to save the boy was rescued alive.
All six were bathing in the Cauvery water at Reddiyarpalayam, about 3 km away from Mettur dam, at the time of the incident, Murugesan said. The boy’s body is yet to be found.
Those who drowned were identified as N Saravanan, his wife Mythili, their two children, and a relative Vaishnavi.
Authorities have sounded a flood alert in Dharmapuri, Salem, Erode, Namakkal, Karur, Trichy, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Pudukkottai and Ariyalur districts.
The Public Works Department, which maintains the Mettur dam, has been releasing 20,000 cusecs water every day since Thursday to reduce the strain on the Stanley reservoir.
“We have been warning the people in the villages along the banks of River Cauvery and also around the [Stanley] reservoir about the outflow,” Salem District Collector Rohini Bhajibhakare said. “We have also put up warning signs all over the place. It seems like the people ignored the warning signs and [entered] the river,” she said, according to The News Minute.
The inflow to Mettur from Karnataka’s Krishna Raja Sagar and Kabini dams stood at more than 62,000 cusecs on Sunday due to the heavy rainfall in the Cauvery catchment areas.
“Since the rains continue in Karnataka, the outflow from Karnataka dams would increase 70,000 cusecs on Monday,” Bhajibhakare told Hindustan Times. “So, we decided to release 30,000 cusecs of water on Sunday night. I have alerted the collectors of low-lying districts from Mettur.”